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OKC Thunder: Wilkins came up hard way

By Mike Baldwin Modified: October 18, 2008 at 11:18 pm •  Published: October 18, 2008
The Thunder’s young players are receiving the bulk of media attention.

That’s fine with Damien Wilkins, who is the Thunder’s second-leading scorer (13.6 average) through five preseason games. Still, most of the buzz surrounds Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and rookie Russell Westbrook.

"I don’t mind if you guys don’t do any big stories on me,” Wilkins said. "Flying under the radar isn’t so bad. I don’t mind that at all. The less you guys talk about me the less I’ll be on scouting reports.”

Undrafted in 2004, Wilkins had to prove himself just to earn an NBA roster spot. He’s played four seasons with the Sonics. Last season, he averaged 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds. Both were career highs.

"If you’re not a high draft pick, you find out what keeps you in the league,” coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "That’s something Damien has always done well. He’s knows he often will be guarding one of the best if not the best offensive guy on the other team. It’s good to have veteran players who understand what their game is.”

Wilkins, a 6-foot-6 small forward, has led Oklahoma City in scoring in two of the five preseason games. He scored 17 against Minnesota and 23 at Golden State. For the first time in his career, he could average double figures.

"I have a lot of confidence built up for this season because of the time I put in the gym,” Wilkins said. "The game has slowed down for me this year... I’ve learned how to get my space, how to get my shot off, how to use screens better.

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