With Cole Aldrich, everything is simple.
Ask the rookie center from Kansas to dissect his game and he'll deliver a no-frills description that matches the self-effacing style he's expected to bring to the Thunder.
"I'm just a guy who loves to play basketball," he said. "Go out and bang with the guys in the paint, grab rebounds and just block shots. Just do whatever I can do to help the team win."
Teammates and coaches, though, have built a small database of buzz words in characterizing the No. 11 overall pick.
Active. Smart. Tough. Workhorse.
"With what he brings, there are definitely things we can use," said veteran forward and fellow Kansas alum Nick Collison.
How much Aldrich can contribute as a rookie is the question.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks has the luxury of not having to rush Aldrich into action. Oklahoma City has an adequate starting frontcourt returning in center Nenad Krstic and power forward Jeff Green. Their backups from a year ago, Collison and Serge Ibaka, provide a nice change of pace and a boost defensively.
But with Krstic (finger) and Collison (knee) both sidelined with injuries, and the preseason opener looming Wednesday against Charlotte, Aldrich seemingly has an opportunity to carve out a greater role, perhaps even take steps that will lead to a starting job before season's end.
"I don't know the impact he will make," Brooks said, "but I like what he's about. And he plays. He bangs."
The Thunder acquired Aldrich from New Orleans in a draft-night swap because his defensive mentality matches the franchise's desired identity. The organization doesn't expect Aldrich to capture the Rookie of the Year honors, but Aldrich can still make his presence felt in the areas in which he does excel. At 6-11, 245 pounds, Aldrich will be asked to use his frame to eat up space in the paint, set solid screens, gobble up rebounds, reject and alter shots and finish the occasional dump off on the offensive end.
While a segment of fans and media members have long viewed a defensive player like Aldrich as a key missing piece, Aldrich said he doesn't feel a burden.
"I don't think there's any pressure at all," Aldrich said. "If anybody has followed me a little bit, (they know) I just play really hard. That's just my game and that's kind of how I've grown up, defensive-minded."
But all signs are starting to point to the Thunder bringing Aldrich along slowly.
Big men typically take longer to develop than guards, and Aldrich has always been viewed as more of a long-term prospect than one who will pay major dividends immediately. Aldrich also hasn't played a high level of 5-on-5 since his college season ended in March. He missed summer league in Orlando because the trade with New Orleans couldn't officially be completed until July 8, and he was sidelined most of the summer after undergoing treatment on his legs.
For now, it appears the most likely route for Aldrich will be a similar one taken by Ibaka during his rookie year. Ibaka played sparingly in much of the first month before earning more time as the season progressed. But Ibaka had proven by last season's open scrimmage that he possessed natural abilities that Brooks couldn't afford to keep off the floor. In Aldrich's case, his ticket to court time might be in his savvy.
Aldrich said he's familiarizing himself with new concepts and schemes in the NBA, as well as adjusting to simpler things such as spacing, the defensive three-second rule and the increased speed and strength of professional players.
But his coach says he's handling things well.
"I think his basketball IQ is very good," Brooks said. "But it's only been (a handful of) days. I'll get a true indication later in the month. I like what he's doing. He's progressing very well."