Here is what Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti had to say about adding former Kentucky player Nerlens Noel to the team’s roster this year:
“We’re really excited about Nerlens. Again, he represents a lot of things that we value. One thing about him that I don’t think people realize is like he’s a good passer, and we’ve got to figure out how we use that. He’s a good decision-maker with the ball,” Presti said.
“I’m from Massachusetts and so is Nerlens, so I’ve been hearing about Nerlens since he was in middle school. He had other places he could have gone, and he chose to come here, and we painted a pretty uphill battle for him to see if he would be willing to accept it, and the fact that he picked to come here and has put in the type of work he’s put in so far this summer is encouraging to me. But there’s still more to do. But the fact that he chose to come here when there was no promises of anything, tells me a lot about what he wants to do and what he’s trying to accept.
“This is a guy that went six in the draft and if he didn’t get injured, he probably would have gone one. We want to feel like we can help — as I said before, develop, identify, and create a platform for guys to play well and to thrive. We’ve had success in the past with some guys that have stubbed their toe or maybe had underperformed.
“What we are not going to do is judge him off of everything that, you know, the past. It’s going to inform us, but we’re going to let him — he has to create his own identity here, and we’re going to create an environment that hopefully can bring the best out of him.
“But I mean, he can really protect the rim. He can run up the floor. He can get up the floor, but he can keep the ball moving. He can keep possessions alive. He can switch, which I think used to be — now it’s a straight-up strategy. It used to be a last resort but now that’s how you’re neutralizing some other aspects of offense.”