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Oklahoma City Thunder: Time for Cole Aldrich to show he can be an NBA player

The former Kansas standout had a chance to shine at the Orlando Summer League. But he fell considerably short of expectations.
By John Rohde Published: October 8, 2012
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photo - Thunder player Cole Aldrich plays basketball with Colby Gill, 12, during a Thunder Fit clinic at John Marshall High School in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, September 19, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Thunder player Cole Aldrich plays basketball with Colby Gill, 12, during a Thunder Fit clinic at John Marshall High School in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, September 19, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Aldrich and free-agent acquisitions Hasheem Thabeet and Daniel Orton are battling for the backup center position and all figure to receive ample playing time in seven preseason games to show what they've got.

OKC's preseason starts Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets in Hidalgo, Texas, just across the Mexico border. Hidalgo is home to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets' D-League affiliate.

Brooks said he will announce the starting center against Houston after Tuesday's practice. No matter who gets the nod, it's showtime because there's no time like the present to become the Thunder's No. 2 center.

Though he didn't play as well as he hoped at Summer League, Aldrich didn't mope.

“It's just a time where you can assess yourself a little bit,” Aldrich said of his first Summer League. “It's not about scoring points and doing spectacular things. It's about doing the little things — setting good screens, guarding pick-and-rolls, things like that where it's really going to make a difference.”

Given his two years with the Thunder, Aldrich owns a significant edge in experience over Thabeet and Orton.

“I feel no pressure myself,” Aldrich said. “I come in every day and work hard. I've gotten a lot better. That's all you can do.”

This is the moment the 6-foot-11, 240-pound Aldrich has waited for since being selected No. 11 overall in the 2010 NBA Draft.

What's it been like facing the 7-3, 263-pound Thabeet, selected by the Memphis Grizzlies with the No. 2 pick in the 2009 Draft?

“He's big,” Aldrich said with his gap-tooth smile. “He's big … and I'm a big guy. He's good. He's getting better. Obviously, we're all just having fun together. We've had some tough days.”


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