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OKC Thunder: Kyle Weaver picks up pace

BY MIKE BALDWIN Modified: March 10, 2009 at 1:49 am •  Published: March 10, 2009
Thunder rookie guard Kyle Weaver goes by the motto: first one to the arena, last one to leave; first one to practice, last one to leave.

"I’ve always tried to catch the coach’s eye,” Weaver said. "Coming from a small town (Beloit, Wis.), I never had the hype. I’ve always been a work in progress. My route just to get here was to work hard at every level.

"Being on this team is very similar to what I went through in college. My freshman year, I didn’t play much. It’s almost identical. Early on, I had to do whatever I could in practice.”

A second-round draft pick out of Washington State, Weaver played little the first two months. Now, he’s a regular in the rotation and has started 15 games. Known more for his defense, Weaver’s offensive game is underrated.

In a win over Dallas last week, Weaver scored 18 points, including a momentum-changing eight points the last six minutes when the offense was sagging without injured stars Kevin Durant and Jeff Green.

Oklahoma City is 4-1 the past five games without Durant. Weaver has played a key role during the hot streak, averaging 12.8 points the past eight games after averaging 3.6 the first three months.

"He’s a good shooter. The league doesn’t know that, yet,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "I’m glad they’re leaving him open. He’s knocking down open shots. He’s a ball mover and does a terrific job of getting other guys involved.”

That’s quite a contrast to a month ago, when Weaver first cracked the starting lineup. On back-to-back possessions, teammates on the bench screamed at Weaver to shoot after he turned down open shots.