How excited are you about your new start at OKC?
I’m really excited. You know, I just came back from a long injury. Not that long, but it felt long to me. And I’m just excited to get things rolling again.
What is it like to play alongside players of the caliber of Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Dennis Schroder
It’s a blast. They’re three highly intelligent, highly talented players. And it’s just a blessing that I get to play with them and learn from them every day.
Do you think your new teammates can help you improve your own game this season?
I can learn a lot of things. I mean, they’re both pretty good all-around players, so I just take bits and pieces every day from defense to offense and try to incorporate it with my own game.
Do you have any personal goals for the upcoming season?
I just want to be the best player I can be. That’s always been my goal. Probably play more minutes, help my team a little more. That’s about it.
What are your memories of your trip to London with the Celtics and the NBA London Game?
It was cool and it was a really good environment at the London Game. I was surprised at how many people came and how many people are actually involved in the NBA every season in Great Britain, so it was great.
Is that something that you hope to be able to be part of again?
Yeah, definitely. I’d love to be able to do something like that in any country. It’s a good experience.
What are your expectations for this year, especially here in Oklahoma City?
The team’s goals are clear, make the playoffs and play better basketball than last year, the last two years. The last two years we lost in the first round of the Playoffs and I always see that as a goal and t a natural goal to go past that this season.
My personal goal is to be a better player, be a new me, be someone else compared to who I’ve been during my two first years in Philadelphia. Be something else. Bring something else to the game and bring something else to this team. I really feel like it’s a good opportunity for me and for the team also because we can build something together. We can really build something throughout the years that I’m here. We have a great group of guys, and it’s going be easy because they make it easier for me.
How do you feel about the competition for the position Hamidou Diallo and Terrance Ferguson?
It’s always great to have competition. It’s nothing unhealthy or nothing bad. It’s just great teammates. We all know we have to be at our best, we have play at 100% every time to make ourselves better. If they are playing at 100%, they will make me better. That’s how we work every day and that’s how we compete every day.
How would you compare the atmosphere in Oklahoma City to Philly?
It does feel different. I think the crowd and the fans are kind of the same. But the way people cheer for us here in Oklahoma is a little bit louder. It’s a little bit more passionate. In Philly the fans were great, but they always expect something, so if you don’t do it, for example if you shoot and you miss two shots in a row, the reaction is ‘oh shoot, he sucks or he’s trash’. But here [in Oklahoma], you miss some shots and it’s okay, you’ll be fine, you’ll make some shots next game. If you play 100%, you play hard and show that love back to the fans, they’ll love you back and they’ll just cheer for you every single day.
Last year you played in the NBA London game with the 76ers. What were your memories of that entire trip?
The NBA London Game was great. It felt great because there were a lot of French people and a lot of people from Europe at the game. It’s always good to show everybody back in Europe what the NBA is about. In Europe they know NBA is a big deal and they know the NBA superstars, but they don’t experience everything we do on this side of the pond. It’s good for European fans to see games and to interact with the players. Hopefully when they see a game, they like it and then maybe they start to wake up at night and watch the games. So, it’s great that the NBA are going back to London in January.
What do you expect from 2018-19 season? Is there any aspect of your game that you’ve been working on the most during the last few weeks?
I think the team didn’t end last season as we planned, but for me especially I’d say that I showed myself that I could be a great defender, so that’s one of my focuses for this year. Just being more consistent and just keep growing as a good defender, also, not forgetting that I am also a threat from a three-point offensive standpoint.
Do you think this year will be your best NBA season to date?
I just try and take it day-by-day. We know as shooters we have some better days than others, and of course when I’m mad because I didn’t score shots, the next day I’ll take care and shoot a little bit more after practice. But you know how it goes, like sometimes there’s that thing that you can’t score and you can do nothing about it. Just get ready for the next game and try to do it better.
How has the addition of Dennis Schroder helped Oklahoma City?
He’s a great player. I think he’s the partner that we need. He can score in so many ways. He’s so crafty. He can do our second unit much better by pushing the ball and just keeping moving the ball like we did most part of last year. And special for me, I’m sure I’ll just be wide open. Same as Russ [Westbrook], that opens a lot of space so he can drive, and then he can either finish or just pass the ball to the three-point line.
You’re entering your third year in Oklahoma City. Do you feel like a veteran yet?
It’s crazy because I feel like I arrived here yesterday, but it’s my third year, and I’m the fourth longest serving guy at the Thunder. I think I can help the guys, especially the new ones, to let them know like how we work here, what are the standards for the Thunder organization, and of course help the team as much as I can. I’m getting better each year, and this year is another step forward.