Insights OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti can take from 2019 NBA Rookie Survey

OKC Thunder: Darius Bazley (Photo by Sean Berry/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder: Darius Bazley (Photo by Sean Berry/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The annual NBA Rookie survey offers interesting takeaways for OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti who’ll be recruiting copious rookies in the near future.

Although OKC Thunder rookie Darius Bazley didn’t make the cut in the answers from this year’s rookie class he might want to use the survey results as motivation for his season. That said the person who should be focusing on the annual NBA rookie survey is Thunder General Manager, Sam Presti.

It’s not like Presti isn’t fully prepared for the work he’ll have in the coming seasons. However, insights into what the youngsters are thinking are equally important.

For example, what the rookies expect will be the biggest change for them coming into the NBA. In this year’s survey those items ranked as follows:

The pace of the game (or speed) ranked first at 40 percent. This isn’t particularly surprising as most College athletes point to how quick the game is. Every year at Vegas that’s the first thing the rookies note.

Coming in tied for second with a healthy 21 percent of the vote is physicality including athleticism, size and the strength of opponents. Again, this isn’t shocking given the prospects are all either in their late teens or early 20s and will now face players who are older, have spent time developing their bodies and have learned the tricks of the trade.

The other second-place finisher with 21 percent of the vote is the season length. After playing in a shorter schedule at College it’s likely the rookies know all about this dynamic. I can’t remember the player who said it recently (maybe Mo Bamba) in an interview about how he woke up in a hotel and didn’t know where he was. That may sound like the makings for a film drama but in fairness, these youngsters aren’t used to traveling and back to back games although it was a great comment on just how different their lives are in the NBA.

Fourth place was lifestyle and time management with 12 percent. Again, we’re talking about young guys who suddenly have a disposable income some likely have only dreamed of. I always think back to my college years and getting a scholarship and thinking I was rich so imagine what it’s like for these young guys coming into millions in some of their cases.

The other categories which got votes were the longer 3-point distance, and playing NBA defense. It’s kind of funny these are the two falling on this list and indicates a few rookies are thinking about scoring while others are dialed into making an impact on their teams.

The other key category Presti should consider is what rookies think is the most important skill they need to develop. The typical responses ranked highest with shooting (32 percent), ball-handling (16 percent), passing (9 percent) and strength (7 percent) ranking one through four. A combination of four items each claimed five percent: decision-making, defense, everything, and money management.

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In addition, other areas which received votes and rank in rookies minds are leadership, mindset, patience, playmaking, playing off the ball, post skills, and time management.

What is interesting about these responses outside of the typical skill set required is the rookies are thinking beyond those terms.

With so many young players likely headed the OKC Thunder in coming seasons it would behoove Presti to note these areas in terms of deciphering a prospect’s character and how invested they are to being more than just a scorer or star in the league. At the end of the day, those qualities are often what makes the difference to a team.

To that end, the accompanying tweet sent out by John Schuhmann noted how important film has become in the development and growth of young assets. As expected the current superstars are among those rookies are spending time reviewing. But, it was great to see some are pulling up players from the past to learn from them as well.

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Film is becoming a great tool in the current era with some teams having note pads, ipads and the such on the sidelines so players can review a play immediately or pull up other plays while on the bench. It won’t be surprising if in a few years this is much more commonplace on every team’s sideline.