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Oklahoma City Thunder: What to watch for with OKC's main summer league players

As many as seven players on the Thunder’s summer league roster could be wearing Thunder jerseys next season. So as the week unfolds, here is what you should be watching from the Thunder’s main summer league players.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: July 4, 2014
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He’ll have a successful summer league if: He plays hard every minute he’s on the floor. As one of the older players on the Thunder’s summer league roster, Jones should shine this week. Not only as a scorer. Whether he’s defending, rebounding, passing or just making hustle plays, Jones has to make his presence felt at all times. He isn’t likely to play in all five games. But the ones that he does appear in need to leave you floored.

JEREMY LAMB

Has a skill: Shooting is what Lamb does best. But it was in Orlando last year that we saw Lamb really showcase his ability to orchestrate the offense and run the pick and roll. We could see more of that this week.

Needs to drill: Defense is Lamb’s biggest area of weakness. He’s proved to be a willing defender, but he must get stronger to be able to better hold his ground and he still has a tendency to get beat by his man fairly easily. That’s the biggest thing to watch with Lamb this week. How effective he is at creating his own shot is another one.

He’ll have a successful summer league if: He doesn’t get injured. Seriously. Lamb should be no worse than the Thunder’s eighth man next season. His place on the roster is solidified. His future is bright. He isn’t expected to play in more than two or three games this week. So while it’d be nice for Lamb to show much-improved defense, the biggest things for him are just being a leader and dodging injury.

MITCH McGARY

Has a skill: Rebounding and passing are two things that McGary does at an elite level. He has a knack for both, and when he’s rolling with those two things he really wows you with his intelligence as a player. He’s also good at running the floor for transition points, capable of scoring out of the pick and roll and owns a good pair of hands and a soft touch around the basket, allowing him to catch and finish with regularity.

Needs to drill: It’s going to be interesting to see how much work McGary has to do as a defender, both in the pick and roll and on the low block. He loves to do the dirty work and excels at it, but position defense is not his strong suit. This will give us our first look at exactly where McGary stands.

He’ll have a successful summer league if: He can log some good minutes. McGary played only eight games last season because of a back injury that required surgery. This is the first time he’ll play in a real game since early December. The Thunder might want to limit him. But if McGary can go all out this week, it’ll be a great sign.

ANDRE ROBERSON

Has a skill: He might be the best rebounder on the Thunder. Not the summer league Thunder. The real Thunder. Roberson is that good. He led the Thunder’s summer league outfit in rebounding last year and flaunted his nose for the ball in 40 games as a rookie. His defense also stood out. His long frame allows him to cover a lot of ground and be really effective at staying in front of his man.

Needs to drill: Shooting. Shooting. Shooting. Roberson has a long way to go to be a threat from 3-point range. He missed 11 of his 13 3-pointers last season and, worse, shied away from taking open ones. That can’t happen, especially if he’s being viewed as a potential starter to replace Thabo Sefolosha next season.

He’ll have a successful summer league if: He supplies solid defense and shows some semblance of a more reliable shot. His shooting isn’t going to be refined overnight. It literally could take years. But he’s working on it every day, and it could be a big boost to his confidence if he has a strong showing as a shooter in Orlando.

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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