Diante Garrett spent last season — his first in the NBA — playing for the 25-57 Phoenix Suns, suffering through a rigid organizational overhaul.
His first taste of the professional world was an unenviable one, filled with a midseason coaching change, constant roster turnover and the worst record in the Western Conference.
“We were losing, a lot of changes, a lot of trades, guys getting waived,” Garrett recently recalled. “Just a lot of ups and downs over there.”
But now, as Garrett gets deeper into his second training camp, this time on a non-guaranteed contract with the Thunder, the Iowa State product is on the opposite end of the NBA spectrum.
At nearly five years, his coach is the fourth-longest tenured in the league. His organization, from top to bottom, operates in unison. His teammates, while still young enough for him to relate, are established veterans of the game. And he can sense the difference.
“The environment is way different,” Garrett said. “Here, it's more of a consistent pace, a steady pace, and guys trying to get better every day. So it's good. I feel like I've been getting way better.”
But the question remains: How long can Garrett expect to be in OKC?
When he initially signed with the Thunder, not many viewed him as much more than an extra body for training camp, providing OKC a bonus practice player, while giving Garrett a stage to showcase his ability for other teams.
But the extended absence of Russell Westbrook, and Garrett's strong play in limited preseason minutes, has suddenly made him a viable regular season roster candidate.