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NBA PM: Thunder Are Staying The Course

The Thunder have a plan and they are sticking to it… A look at the preseason stat leaders.

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Staying On Program Is The Key For OKC

There is no bigger free agent fish next July than Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant. With what projects to be more than a dozen NBA teams with $20 million or more in useable cap space, the list of possible suitors for Durant in July is substantial.

But will any of that really matter?

Thunder GM Sam Presti in a wide-ranging Q&A with the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn explained how his team is approaching his franchise’s biggest free agent.

“We adopted an organizational approach in 2008 that is centered on being intentional about focusing on the present,” Presti said. “Not getting sidetracked by things we can’t control, and ensuring that all of our attention and intention is on embracing the season as it comes to us. We have seen every year as important, meaningful, and worthy of our full attention, and this season will be treated in the same fashion.

“This approach has served us well and our players have been excellent in terms of staying disciplined to this approach during the various circumstances we have encountered over the years.

“I really think that our standing as an organization is very much due to their ability to work in the present tense and place their attention on the quality of the work, not in the past or toward a future that has yet to arrive. If we continue to stay true to this concept, and I believe we will, it allows us to embrace the opportunities that this, like any season, presents and also allows us to continue to build an identity for the Thunder that will stand the test of time.”

In short, the Thunder believe if they can stay focused on the task in front of them, they have built an organization that would be hard for Durant to walk away from.

And if Durant chooses to walk away next July, it’s not something the Thunder control, so why worry about it?

The Thunder have been pretty straight forward in their view of their pitch.

“People often forget that Kevin is a player who, along with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, has won more playoff series and been to more conference finals by the age of 27 than any players of their caliber other than Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan,” Presti said.

Their stance is that they have one of the winning-est franchises in the NBA in the Durant era and that the forward just turned 27 at the end of September.

While Durant’s future is still very much up in the air, the Thunder believe if they can handle their own business, Durant leaving won’t be much of a consideration if his goal is to be on a winning team.

If his goals are aligned to something else, that’s not something the Thunder can control or influence, so staying on program and on message is all they can really do.

Who Is Leading The NBA Preseason?

Stats in the preeason usually mean very little in the grand scheme of things, especially as teams rest their core players, but the data gleaned from extended minutes can often paint a picture of a player ready for a bigger workload or even a star on the rise. Here are some of the category leaders:

Points Per Game

Rank Player GP MIN PTS FG% 3P%
1 Kyle Lowry 4 25.3 24.3 57.7 57.1
2 Damian Lillard 3 31.3 23.7 36.7 34.8
3 Anthony Davis 4 24.5 20.8 52.4 62.5
4 John Jenkins 4 27 19.3 51.8 30.8
5 C.J. McCollum 5 30.8 19.2 42 37.9
5 Stephen Curry 5 21.8 19.2 53.7 45.7
7 Paul George 5 22.4 18.6 44.1 35.5
8 Rudy Gay 5 27.4 18 47.7 40
9 DeMarcus Cousins 5 23.8 17.8 39.1 8.3
10 Kawhi Leonard 4 24 17.8 43.4 41.2
11 Tyreke Evans 2 24 17.5 60 50
12 Brook Lopez 5 26.4 16.8 43.9 25
13 Derrick Williams 5 21.6 16.6 58.8 47.1
14 Doug McDermott 5 31.4 16.6 46.8 43.2
15 Russell Westbrook 4 22.8 16.5 49 25

Rebounds Per Game

Rank Player GP MIN PTS OREB DREB REB
1 Andre Drummond 6 29.8 15 4.2 8 12.2
2 Dwight Howard 1 23 5 4 7 11
3 Bobby Portis 5 24.8 12.2 4 6.4 10.4
4 Tyler Hansbrough 3 21.3 7 3 7.3 10.3
5 Clint Capela 4 24.3 9 3 6.8 9.8
6 Roy Hibbert 6 23.2 6.5 4 5.7 9.7
6 Thomas Robinson 3 20.3 7 4.3 5.3 9.7
8 Garrett Temple 1 24 7 1 8 9
8 Hassan Whiteside 1 26 12 4 5 9
10 Joffrey Lauvergne 6 25.2 13.3 2.7 6.2 8.8
11 Ed Davis 5 22.4 6.2 2.4 6.4 8.8
12 Enes Kanter 4 23 15.5 3 5.8 8.8
13 Derrick Favors 3 27 12.7 4 4.7 8.7
14 Rudy Gay 5 27.4 18 1.8 6.8 8.6
15 DeAndre Jordan 4 25.8 7.5 0.5 8 8.5

Assists Per Game

Rank Player GP MIN PTS AST STL
1 John Wall 4 21.5 9 9 1.5
2 Russell Westbrook 4 22.8 16.5 8 1.5
3 Chris Paul 3 24 12 7.7 0.3
4 Garrett Temple 1 24 7 7 1
5 Ramon Sessions 5 20.4 8.2 6.8 0.8
6 Jameer Nelson 5 19.8 9.4 6.4 0.2
6 Reggie Jackson 5 28.8 16.2 6.4 0.8
8 Marcelo Huertas 1 12 4 6 0
9 T.J. McConnell 4 23.5 7.3 5.8 2.8
10 C.J. Watson 4 25.3 6 5.5 2
10 Darren Collison 6 26.5 15.3 5.5 1.7
10 Raymond Felton 2 20 7.5 5.5 0.5
13 C.J. McCollum 5 30.8 19.2 5.4 0.6
13 Emmanuel Mudiay 5 29.2 15 5.4 1
15 Isaiah Thomas 4 23.5 15.8 5.3 1.3

The NBA regular season gets underway on October 27.

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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