Oklahoma City (AP) Injuries usually wait until the middle of the season to start bothering the Oklahoma City Thunder.
This time he attacked in the offseason.
No. 2 pick Chet Holmgren was ruled out for the season with a foot injury last month. Now top scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will miss at least a few weeks with a left knee sprain.
These injuries received a lot of attention on media day in Oklahoma City on Monday.
Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 24.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.9 assists last season before suffering a right ankle injury. After the All-Star break, he averaged 30.4 points on 54% shooting in 13 games and scored at least 30 points 10 times.
He recovered from an ankle injury but suffered an injury during a recent workout and woke up with knee stiffness. An MRI showed a Grade 2 MCL sprain. While he is expected to miss the preseason fight, he could be ready for the season opener.
“I feel much better,” Gilgeous-Alexander said on Monday. ”Definitely in the right direction. As for the schedule, we’ll see.”
But Monday wasn’t just about injured players. Forward Darius Basley, who averaged 10.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season before breaking a bone in his right knee, went from 208 pounds to 220 and changed his jersey number from 7 to 55.
Guard Tre Mann, who averaged 10.4 points per game last season, came in with several new tattoos on a significantly more muscular arm.
There are other newcomers, ready to attract attention.
French forward Usman Dieng, a 6-foot-10 forward, averaged 8.9 points and 3.2 rebounds for the New Zealand Breakers last season. Jalen Williams, a 6-6 guard, averaged 18 points and 4.2 assists last season as a junior at Santa Clara. Jaylene Williams, a 6-10, 240-pound forward, averaged 10.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game for Arkansas last season.
They will make players like second-year forward Aaron Wiggins perform at their best during training camp.
“The guys are going to be very tough, very aggressive with a mindset to sort of prove themselves,” Wiggins said. “Everyone has something to prove. I think it calls for a very competitive training camp. It will be fun. This will be an occasion where we can all check in on each other and see where we are and how we can fit in.”
Josh Giddy has high hopes after being named to the All-Rookie Second Team last season.
Last season, the Australian guard averaged 12.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game and was the Western Conference Rookie of the Month four times. He recorded three consecutive triple-doubles shortly before losing the season due to pain in his right hip.
But he knew he had a job for the summer. The 19-year-old made just 26.3% of three-pointers last season.
“I’ve spent a lot of time obviously focusing on the areas I need to improve in – ball shooting, a lot in the gym,” he said.
THERE IS RETURNING
Defenseman Lou Dort has signed a contract extension after jumping from 14.0 points per game two seasons ago to 17.2 last season.
In March, he underwent surgery for a labral rupture on his left shoulder, and he is ready to compete this season. He said he wants to make better decisions when attacking the basket.
Now in his fourth year, he also wants to be a leader.
“I can get a bigger role if I’m a little louder,” he said. “The very fact that I’ve been through some of the stuff that young guys are going through right now, I feel like I can help them, talk to them and all that stuff.”
Gilgeous-Alexander has been a strong player for Canada this summer, as evidenced by a 32-point game against the Dominican Republic in July.
“I got to play with guys I grew up with, so it was a good time,” he said. “And then it just kept me in top basketball shape before the summer. Obviously the games are different, flows and stuff, so it was good, just for the same reps. And then just represent my country, which is what I always wanted to do.”
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: twitter.com/CliffBruntAP
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