Had a conversation with Thunder coach P.J. Carlesimo today and touched on a number of things. I’ll have a short story in Thursday’s paper on how pleased Carlesimo is with the off-season progress of Kevin Durant and Jeff Green. Here’s a sample….
“They look very good,” Carlesimo said. “Those guys have had a real productive summer… I will be shocked if they don’t, not just pick up where they left off, but play at an even higher level right from the beginning. It will be noticeable to people that these guys are better players than when they left in April.”
We also chatted at length about Chris Wilcox for a story I’m working on for our Sunday preseason preview. Wilcox is one of the more intriguing players on the roster because he’s still fairly young (just turned 26 three weeks ago) and has shown flashes of being a dominant player but has struggled with injuries and inconsistency. This seemingly could be his last year to put it all together and prove himself to be an elite player in this league. If he does, he could become another piece of the long-term puzzle for the Thunder (or set himself up with security from another franchise if his asking price is too high). But that’s part of what makes him so intriguing going into camp: he’s in a contract year and appears to be at a make or break crossroads. Here’s a sample from Carlesimo…..
“He has a chance to be an elite player in the league,” Carlesimo said. “At times, he’s already proven that. But consistency is what defines the elite players.”
Also, for a story I could have for Friday, P.J. talked about how the Thunder is loaded at the power forward spot. Carlesimo seems excited about entering the season with a power forward rotation of Nick Collison, Chris Wilcox, Joe Smith, rookie D.J. White and at times Jeff Green. But he also understands that depth could pose a problem when it comes to distributing minutes. Here’s a sample…
“You arguably could say that’s our deepest position,” Carlesimo said. “We’re loaded…I think it’s safe to say we’re going to play a decent amount of minutes this year where we have two (power forwards) on the floor. Otherwise, it’s going to be very challenging, failing injuries, to get enough minutes for Nick and (Chris) and Joe without even talking about the young guys.”
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