â€œI think I've gotten better defensively. In college, I was the tallest person on my team and I was protecting the basket all the time. Now I can go out and guard on the perimeter, go down and defend help side, so I think I've gotten better. Plus, I'm learning from my teammates. Watching Nick Collison has helped me a lot.â€
Brooks said he's not afraid to bring you off the bench at any time.
â€œFeels good to hear that, to know my hard work has paid off and I have earned the trust of coach Brooks. I just don't want to disappoint when I get out there.â€
What's the last thing you're told before you enter a game?
â€œI pretty much know what they want me to do, who I'm guarding when I go out there. They expect me to play hard, rebound and make open shots.â€
Are you more nervous as an NBA player?
â€œSome players get nervous. Some players have anxiety, but I've been doing this since I was 12, at least that's how I look at it. I just go out there and try playing relaxed.â€
The Thunder bench looks pretty entertaining during a game.
â€œWe have fun on the bench â€” me, Royal (Ivey), Mo (Peterson), Byron (Mullens), Daequan (Cook). Those guys (on the court) are our teammates. We love them, so we just try to keep the energy up. When it's dead, we're yelling, talking to the other team, just keeping it fun.â€
How special was it getting to play against the Pacers in Indiana (Nov. 26)?
â€œIt meant a lot. I had a lot of friends there, college teammates. I feel well-liked there, so to speak.â€
Indiana basketball fans are crazy, aren't they?
â€œYeah, they're crazy. Great fans, though. I love 'em, but they're crazy.â€
Do you stay in touch with Kelvin Sampson (former Oklahoma and Indiana coach and now a Milwaukee Bucks assistant)?
â€œI talk to him all the time. I talked to him before and after the game at Milwaukee.â€
Did you chat most when you were out with surgery?
â€œWe chatted all the time. He just told me, â€˜Stay in it. There are better days ahead of you. Keep focused.' So he helped me out a lot during that time.â€
Two days before the season opener, the Thunder exercised the option year of your contract to retain you. Did you see that coming?
â€œI was happy to know I'll get another year, especially with this organization.â€