Though the Thunder is considered Kevin Durant's team, leadership also comes from starting center Kendrick Perkins, an imposing figure and a member of the 2008 world champion Boston Celtics.
Perkins said he and Durant each lead in their own way.
“I'd never tell KD this, but I think he kind of set the bar high for me,” Perkins said. “Practice starts at 10, and he's there at 7:45 every morning. I'm looking at him like, ‘Dude, what are you doing?' Seriously, I'm used to getting my (extra) shots up after practice. He's before and after practice. So I'm like, ‘Man, you're setting the bar up pretty high for a guy who's got (two) kids.' I need every extra minute of my sleep.
“KD is a guy who leads by example. When I first got here, I had never seen a superstar work as hard as him, and that's the honest truth. Just watching him before practice, then he goes through practice hard, he's shooting again after practice. I'm like, ‘When do this dude ever get tired?' It was something like two weeks after the season was over with … he went to Rucker (Park in New York City) and dropped 60 (actually 66 points). I'm like, ‘When's your vacation time?'
“But that's the way he sets the bar for the team. He really leads by example by not even saying a word. So it's cool.”
Second-year center Cole Aldrich playfully was asked if he wished he could do some of the things athletic forward Serge Ibaka can do.
The 6-foot-11, 245-pound Aldrich smiled, shrugged and said: “Heck, I mean, there's a lot of things I wish I could do like Kevin. I wish I could shoot the ball and handle it.”
FEELING A CHILL
One of Lazar Hayward's first thoughts when he was traded from Minnesota to the Thunder on Tuesday? “It wasn't as cold, so I was happy about that,” the 25-year-old small forward said.
Hayward certainly knows cold. He was born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y., attended prep school in Massachusetts, played collegiate ball at Marquette in Milwaukee, Wis., and spent his NBA rookie season with the Timberwolves.
However, Hayward is in for a surprise if he thinks it doesn't get cold in OKC.
“I'm used to the negatives (minus-degree temperatures),” Hayward explained. “As long as it's not negative, it's like summertime for me.”
Hayward previously had crossed paths with new teammates Durant and James Harden during the offseason in the Los Angeles area.
“We knew there was possibly a chance for me to come here (OKC) and it was always good to just play against those guys," Hayward said.
Thunder general manager Sam Presti said: “It's amazing in today's day and age the players know each other very well and a lot of that is through the AAU and camps they play in during the summer with the different shoes companies and the advent of social media. (It) all contributes to relationships of players in the NBA.”
Thursday was the Thunder's lone off day of training camp. OKC will play its two exhibition games against Dallas early next week – on Sunday in Dallas at 6:30 p.m. and at Chesapeake Energy Arena at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, which has a limited number of tickets remaining (thunder.nba.com) and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma.
The Thunder opens the regular season on Christmas Day with a 7 p.m. contest at home against Orlando.