After a three-hour media venture on Monday, the doors are officially open for Oklahoma City Thunder training camp. Day one continued the action-packed precedent set as various players shuffled in-and-out of the podium while the remaining group of guys partook in both a morning and evening practice.
Here are the top moments from day one:
Oklahoma City entered Tuesday morning with all but one member of the roster active for practice. The lone member absent from training camp-play was veteran newcomer Derrick Favors. As noted by Head Coach Mark Daigneault, Favors was off-site for treatment on his knee. The original schedule slotted Favors in for Tuesday’s practice, but off-site on Thursday — but a scheduling conflict pushed the 30-year-old into treatment two days early. The treatment was noted to be “routine,” and not a new issue.
Return to the rink
For the 19 available Thunder participants, all the members trained and practiced at the Oklahoma City Blue’s practice facility. The reason why — history.
When the Thunder relocated to Bricktown in 2008, there had been no pre-built basketball facility for training purposes, so they bought one. They settled upon renovating an old roller-skating rink for practices, and the building turned out to be a worthwhile investment, being used by the Thunder until 2011.
In bringing the roster to the Thunder ION, Thunder GM Sam Presti and Mark Daigneault (who coached in the rink for five seasons) were able to retell the history of the building, the proving ground it provided, and the opportunities it gives to all of the Thunder hopefuls.
In the case of guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, he mentioned he enjoyed the experience, but also that since he’s never played for the Blue, this was one of a few times he’s been in the facility. As for guard Lu Dort, he mentioned playing at the Thunder ION “brings back a lot of memories. Dort began his pro career playing 13 games for the Oklahoma City Blue.
Tre Mann adjusting to NBA play
Tre Mann had a shaky stint on the Thunder’s Summer League team this past summer. Though the 6-foot-5 guard exhausted a bevvy of difficult dribble-drives and layups through contact, the former Gator failed to hit a three while shooting 24.1 percent on 14.5 attempts.
Daigneault briefly glossed over Mann’s day one campaign noting he had difficulty reading if he was open or not, and in creating enough space for shots. In one possession, Daigneault complemented Isaiah Roby for making a close-out block on Mann past the perimeter.
Just as all rookies experience, there’s an adjustment period in transitioning from college play to the NBA ranks. Given Mann’s exploratory skill set in driving, distributing, and scoring from distance — expect the 20-year-old to gradually progress throughout the week.
Vit Krejci makes immediate impression
Vit Krejci has been longing to play for the Thunder. Selected 37th in the 2020 Draft, Krejci missed the entirety of last season as a result of a torn ACL injury, suffered in September of 2020. The 6-foot-8 guard spent the grander portion of last season surrounding himself within the organization. From moving to Oklahoma City in January, attending home games in March, to even attending Darius Bazley’s birthday party — Krejci entered training camp with a resume logged in the system.
A year and some change post-injury, the Czech has already made an imprint in Daigneault’s system.
“[Krejci] is a two-end player,” said Daigneault. “He takes pride in his defense. He wants to play defense… He is not a ‘pretty boy’ guard.”
Krejci is expected to be playing the long game when it comes to ACL recovery, but the 21-year-old raised eyebrows with his athleticism and finishing ability. While playing with Basket Zaragoza, Krejci made a name for himself as a ball-handling slasher both in on-ball and off-ball situations.