Kyle Weaver: The Forgotten Man
MEMPHIS — The two-inch scar on his left thumb knuckle serves as a reminder of how harsh this game can be.
It’s a symbol that marks the latest bump in the road Kyle Weaver.
First there was the trade for Thabo Sefolosha at the February trade deadline, a move that added another wing player to the roster and effectively sliced into the shooting guard’s playing time. Then the Thunder drafted over the second-round pick out of Washington State when it selected James Harden with the No. 3 overall selection in June. That move could knock Weaver to mop-up duty this season.
The last thing Weaver needed was to come into training camp with a torn thumb tendon, an injury he sustained in the Orlando Pro Summer League and needed surgery to repair.
But that’s the predicament Weaver finds himself in as the Thunder opens its preseason schedule tonight in Memphis. Against the Grizzlies, though, Weaver might finally catch a much-needed break. Sefolosha sustained a mild concussion in Monday’s practice and did not travel with the team. That leaves an open spot at the starting shooting guard position that Weaver is itching to fill. It’s an opportunity for playing time that Weaver must take advantage of and show Thunder coach Scott Brooks he’s worthy of minutes. Fail to do so and Sefolosha and Harden are waiting in the wings to turn a three-man battle for minutes into a headache-free, two-man rotation.
It’s a challenge Weaver has accepted.
“Every day we’re out here, whether we’re doing a drill or scrimmage, when we get in between those lines it’s a fight,” Weaver said. “Not only am I trying to get better myself, but I’m trying to show that I belong out there. I’m still trying to prove that. Every time I step out here it’s a fight. I’m trying to get better, and I want to do what I can when I’m on the floor to make my teammates better as well. So it’s definitely a fight every time I’m out there.”
Weaver’s value is in his versatility. He’s a playmaker in a shooting guard’s body, capable of playing and defending both guard positions. He spent the off-season improving his shooting stroke, working on a quicker release, better range and deadlier accuracy. He also worked on his ball-handling and decision-making skills so that in emergency situations he can provide relief at point guard or give Brooks more options with his flexible lineup.
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