Sunday, October 24 2021

Aleksej Pokusevski was a notable absence from the Oklahoma City Thunder’s summer league. It wasn’t unexpected — general manager Sam Presti said beforehand that the young forward/center would not play, but instead focus on other training paths — but fans were unable to see him on the court with other pieces of the future such as fellow second-year player Theo Maledon.

On Friday, Presti provided more insight into why the organization chose to keep Pokusevski out of summer league and focus on different strategies.

“We had a specific plan for him,” Presti started.

NBA players need time to decompress after last season ended, so Pokusevski had a break mentally, physically and emotionally.

When it’s time to rejoin the team, it takes time to ramp back up the workouts and conditioning to an NBA level.

“Once he got to an offseason level of training for his body, we wanted to be able to keep it there. In order to go to an offseason training to play in summer league, that’s like a month-long periodization process that ramps up,” Presti said. “You can’t train at the same level from a physical standpoint in the areas we wanted him to focus on and also prepare for summer league.”

From an outside perspective, perhaps the most important thing for Pokusevski at this time is to put on strength. Despite being 7 feet tall, the Serbian weighed 190 pounds last season.

Regardless of his versatility with the ball in his hands, he was too small to defend bigger players and not quick enough to guard smaller ones.

After spending much of the first season getting accustomed not only to the NBA but to the United States of America, this offseason can be more basketball- and training-focused.

Presti was explicit in saying that Pokusevski will have to compete.

“He’s far from having established himself as a player in the NBA, but the steps he took this summer I think are going to give him the best opportunity to realize his talent,” the general manager said.

“I think he maximized the time that he had in the summer. We’ll see where that leaves us when he starts training camp.” th

Source: Yahoo Sports

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