LAS VEGAS — There have been times this summer when you barely even notice No. 5 on the court for the Thunder.
It generally happens when you’re paying attention to only the offensive end.
But watch both ends of the floor, and Kyle Weaver’s true value takes shape. Take Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers for example.
Matched up against former college star Adam Morrison, Weaver limited Morrison to 17 points on 5-for-18 shooting and helped hound him into three turnovers. It was Morrison’s worst showing yet.
Morrison might not sound like the stiffest competition considering he was a bench warmer for the Lakers last season. But in this setting in Sin City, Morrison is L.A.’s best player and the type of guy who routinely leads the league in scoring. More importantly, Morrison was the latest in a long line of "the other team’s best player” that Weaver has been assigned the task of defending.
"You’re seeing some of his defensive capabilities,” said Thunder summer league coach Brian Keefe. "Guarding the best players on the other team is something he did a little bit for us during the regular season and you’re seeing it more now. And I think he’s done a good job of it.”
Weaver enters tonight’s game against San Antonio with modest averages of 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals in 27.5 minutes per game. But it’s the way he’s pestered his man, coming up with blocks and deflections, steals and forced turnovers, that has impressed the Thunder’s coaching staff.
"That’s what he’s here for,” Keefe said. "That’s what he was known for in college and that’s what he’s doing for us now. We’re seeing more consistency, more intensity and more of an understanding of the schemes, just all the stuff that happens as you grow as a player and you grow into that role.”
Weaver is admittedly much more comfortable entering his second season than he was this time a year ago. It’s helped that he’s been working almost nonstop to improve his game, spending much of this off-season in Oklahoma City to work out under the supervision of the coaching staff and alongside some of his teammates.