Inside the process of the OKC Thunder assigning players to the Blue

Tre Mann #23 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Tre Mann #23 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

The Oklahoma City Thunder are renowned as a calculated, methodical, and cohesive organization that is a primed spot for player development as one of the few organizations that truly value the NBA G-League resource and treat it as an actual attachment to the NBA club. The OKC Thunder often sends some of their most valuable young players to the G-League to help develop them, with players and organizations alike not viewing the Blue as a demotion but rather a tool.

So when the Oklahoma City Thunder send down their struggling sophomore shooting guard, Tre Mann, to the NBA G-League last week, what is that process like for the organization and the player?

Inside the process of the Oklahoma City Thunder sending and recalling players to and from the NBA G-League, how the OKC Thunder manage these roster moves and connect the organizations

Following the Oklahoma City Blue’s late-game win over the Sioux Falls Skyforce where Thunder assignee Jaylin Willimas logged his first-ever career triple-double leading the team in Points (21), Rebounds (14), Assists (12), and Steals (3)., I asked Kameron Woods about the process of players being sent down and recalled from the NBA G-League.

Last week, the OKC Thunder sent second-year guard Tre Mann to the OKC Blue for the Vegas Winter Showcase as Mann played in two games posting 35 and 40 points respectively on his way to All-Showcase team status.

Just this season alone, the Blue have seen Tre Mann, Ousmane Dieng, Jaylin Williams, Lindy Waters, and Eugene Omoruyi play for both the G-League and NBA clubs. In recent years, Aleksej Pokusevski, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Aaron Wiggins, and Lu Dort play in the G-Leauge for stretches of their career with the goal of player development in mind. Judging by the track record of these players pre-assignment and post-assigned within their individual seasons, the plan is working in OKC, but why?

Earlier this year, Kameron Woods explained the reason Jaylin Williams was with the Blue was due to the organization wanting to see more “force” from him on the offensive end.

Before the Mann assignment was official, Mark Daigneault warned the Media that OKC would be assigning their Sophomore guard would be sent to the Blue as part of a developmental plan that everyone was involved in.

Tre Mann took this assignment in stride saying “Looking forward to it,  I’m ready to go with the Blue, compete, get better.”

I asked OKC Blue head coach Kameron Woods to expand on this process and he said “It is cohesive, always a plan, me and Mark [Daigneault] talk pretty regularly outside of assignments, so those conversations we have about assignments are kinda free flowing and in the normal day to day conversation anyways.”

Woods continued by saying “The thing that makes it easy is our styles are very similar, so it’s not like we have to change the playbook when guys like that come down here. Our players are mature and they understand it is part of the G-League [to have NBA players assigned to their team] so there is no kickback or pushback from them. Like I said it is always planned so we always know ahead of time.”

Woods attributes all parties knowing the plan as to why the players that come down to the Blue are in really good spirits “the whole thing is pretty smooth I would say in terms of the player experience, the coaches experience, and the team experience.”

Along with the plans, some areas of focus for players to work on.  In Tre Mann’s case, it was about “getting back in rhythm, trying to find more shots off the catch, moving better without the ball.” Woods explained and added the Thunder wanted to see Mann “competing at a high level.”

Mark Daigneault, a former OKC Blue head coach before eventually climbing the latter to being the Oklahoma City Thunder’s bench boss understands the importance of transparency, a trait the organization from top to bottom prides itself on internally.

Next. Jaylin Williams logs his first career triple-double. dark