OKC Thunder Exit interview highlights: Reserve master Felton and rookie Ferguson

Terrance Ferguson, OKC Thunder (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Terrance Ferguson, OKC Thunder (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images) /

In the final segment of the 2017-18 OKC Thunder exit interviews TI turns our attention to Raymond Felton and Terrance Ferguson.

In particular, the major takeaways from the exit interviews were Felton discussing how professionals deal with transitioning from starter to reserve (hint: Mr Hoodie – you might want to check this out).  On the opposite end of the spectrum Terrance Ferguson discussed the role of the rookie and integration into becoming a professional in the NBA.

The OKC Thunder ended the same way it started disappointing. The season as a whole was disappointing, yet positives can be found upon further inspection. Raymond Felton was the most reliable backup point guard to put on a Thunder jersey in recent memory. Plus despite hitting the proverbial rookie wall Terrance Ferguson showed flashes of potential.

With that let’s get to the two players quotes and takeaways based on their comments.

Felton on his biggest takeaway from the season

"Just the opportunity, the experience, playing in front of probably the best fans in the NBA. The fans have been amazing. I’ve been on teams where you lose two games, you get booed, and people say all kinds of things to you. But here, win, lose, draw, whatever, these fans got your back 100 percent. We come in last night at 4:00 a.m. in the morning, they’re all out there waiting for us. That’s something that’s unheard of in the NBA. I’m used to that in college basketball, but that’s something I’ve never seen before here in the NBA, and I’ve been in the league 13 years."

Similar to Corey Brewer among other Thunder players, Felton was in awe of the fan support the OKC Thunder receive. Thunder Nation give yourself a round of applause. Russell Westbrook has been saying it for years and other players are following suit you are the BEST fans in the NBA.

Oklahoma City can’t offer beaches or an elegant nightlight. What we can offer is fierce fanbase and quiet place to raise a family. Continue doing your part Thunder Nation to make Oklahoma City a place players want to play.

Felton on  how Carmelo Anthony handled the season

"I’ve known Melo since we was 12 years old. Just seeing his career grow and becoming who he’s become, and to come here to basically sacrifice the game the way he did, it’s a tip-off to him. A lot of people don’t understand it, but it’s a hit to you as a player. It’s hard. It was hard for me being a starter for nine, ten years and then accepting the fact that you’re going to be a backup. That’s something you’ve got to come to grips with as you get older, as you get more and more years in this league.It’s tough. It was tough for me. I’m pretty sure it’s tough for him sacrificing his game and changing his game and accepting the fact that, you know, you could possibly be the second, third, fourth option. That’s tough. And I get it."

This scribes biggest complaint about Melo was not that he had a problem with coming off the bench. It’s that Billy Donovan did not have enough control or relationship with Melo to put him in the best position for the team to succeed.

Expecting Melo to willingly or even offer to come off the bench was always a pipe dream. Those decisions are all on Donovan unless they come from higher up. Regardless it is over now and the Thunder should try to move on from Melo during the off-season.

Felton describes his transition from starter to bench brigade

Felton spoke of how he dealt with the ego hit of transitioning to the Dallas bench following injury. Moreover, he described how it allowed him to grow as a professional. The following except in particular addresses how difficult the psychological aspect of change can be for a competitor.

"It was tough. Went home and screamed, just being in the house to myself and just screamed, because I was frustrated. I wanted to play. Wanted to be out there. I wasn’t ready to accept not playing. I really wasn’t. But came back the next year, worked my behind off that summer, had a great year, was starting most of the year, coming off the bench sometimes, and just — sometimes you’ve got to just accept it, roll with it, and just continue to work. Even when you’re 10, 11 years in, you’ve still got to go out there and prove what you’ve got to prove."

The takeaway from the above quote offers superb insight into a situation many readers and pundits have not been in. Felton is an absolute professional and this scribe hopes he remains with the OKC Thunder for the rest of his career.

The way Uncle Ray described his struggle with transitioning to the bench demonstrates why anyone should take him on their team. Felton has some tread left on his tires and should be a high priority on the Thunder’s off-season checklist.

Terrance Ferguson

Ferguson on his biggest challenge in his first NBA season

"The biggest challenge? It was probably at the beginning of the season, just coming in, not playing a lot, and then having to go right into starting. But, like I said, I was always ready at all times, staying focused throughout the season. Came in every day with the same work ethic"

The OKC Thunder and their front office take on heavy criticism, but they also deserve praise as well. Namely for the extensive research done to bring in high character prospects. Being a good athlete reaches far beyond on-court achievements.

One can be a jerk and still be a good athlete, but when you combine a good athlete with high character you get the best of both worlds. The Thunder have always valued high character, sometimes to a fault, but for the most part, it is a good way to run an organization.

On the overall rookie experience

"More from Thunderous IntentionsStealing one player from every Southwest Division team for the OKC ThunderShould the OKC Thunder chase after a disgruntled hometown hero?3 OKC Thunder players who can step up in Aleksej Pokusevski’s absenceAleksej Pokusevski sidelined approximately 6 weeks with ankle injuryDamian Lillard does not fit with the OKC ThunderI think I had the best rookie season. I mean, I’m playing with three future Hall of Famers. We have great players, Nick Collison, we have Steve, they were always in my ear each and every day just telling me what to do, giving me confidence. Just learning the game from them, from Andre, just a lot of people around to help me with my game"

Clarification I am almost positive Ferguson was soley referring to his experience, not his play on the court. If he is referring to his play on the court T-Ferg deserves an A+ for his confidence.

Furthermore, It is well documented Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison are great leaders.

Ferguson crediting  Steven Adams and Andre Roberson for their leadership highlights great signs of their growth and maturity. The evaluation from follower to a leader is difficult one to make, however Roberson and Adams appear to be making a seamless transition.

On using athleticism to his advantage

"That’s what me and Darko are going to work on in the off-season. Doing more with the dribble, just expanding my game. I had two great point guards to send me the ball, find open shots for me. This off-season I would definitely make my own shot."

This quote intrigues this scribe for two reasons. Firstly, he doesn’t mention how OKC Thunder head coach Billy Donovan will help him improve. Rather he references assistant coach Darko Rajakovic. Then again it’s not unusual for assistants to have the primary one on one contact with individual players. Particularly, when it comes to being tasked with improvement and growth.

Secondly, the idea of T-Ferg being able to create his own show should excite any member of Thunder Nation.

One of the biggest flaws the Thunder encountered was lack of shot creators. The list includes Russ, Felton, Paul George, and Melo the latter of the group only created for himself. If Ferguson comes into next season creating shots it will be a huge benefit for Oklahoma City.

That’s it for me today Thunder Nation. Have a great week.