The Steven Adams camp took place at the ASB Sports Centre this past Sunday, much to the delight of Kiwi NBA hopefuls.
Adams was accompanied by Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti, and current Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach, Mark Bryant.
Dion Prewster, small forward for the Wellington Saints, Leon Henry, small forward for the Townsville Crocs/Southland Sharks, Troy Mclean, former Wellington Saints player and Ed Book, former Tall Black were notable coaches at the camp.
Before the Adams’ camp started, which over 400 kids from Wellington attended, Adams and Presti spoke to the media.
Adams reiterated the importance of giving back to New Zealand basketball, hence the reason for camps, such as the one held in Wellington and others he will hold throughout New Zealand.
Adams was also adamant that he will eventually play for the Tall Blacks, but he didn’t want to put a time frame on when he would play for the national team. He believes, at this stage of his development as a player, going to the World Cup would not be the right decision.
He feels that the plan put in place by the Oklahoma City Thunder coaching staff for his development, is his sole focus this offseason and he has seen real progress this offseason in his overall game.
Presti complied, by adding, “The hope would be that the national team benefits from the work he’s putting in currently…”
The Oklahoma City Thunder, General Manager, Sam Presti, explained the reason he attended the camp, was the fact he supported all his players and wanted to be at the camp to support Steven.
He also pointed out, that the Thunder didn’t just draft Adams because of the physical gifts he possessed, such as his size, soft hands and athleticism, but also his story and what he has overcome to this point in his life to get to the NBA, saying, ”And I think a big part of that is how he came up, how he grew up, the situations he’s been encountered with, how he’s reacted to those adversities. Those are things we really looked at strongly when we made the decision to draft him” and that was the biggest reason they decided take him in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Presti, also pointed out, that the Oklahoma City Thunder, is the second-smallest market in the NBA and was thankful for the support coming from New Zealand.
He said that the “Oklahoma City Thunder needed all of the four million New Zealanders behind them.” Because of the support the Thunder are getting in New Zealand, Presti would like to form a greater relationship with New Zealand Basketball and lend his support to community initiatives.
Overall, Presti, was impressed with both Adams’ camp and the New Zealand Basketball Academy, saying, “Seeing this facility, seeing what [Adams’ mentor] Kenny [McFadden] and Steven have done at the youth level here, is remarkable…”
Later, I was able to talk to Presti, one on one, where he explained his journey to becoming the General Manager, of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Presti explained that he began his career as an intern, with the San Antonio Spurs and still has a close relationship, with both R.C. Buford, the San Antonio Spurs general manager and their current coach, Gregg Popovich.
Presti’s first job, as General Manager, at the age of 30 and current position, began with the Seattle SuperSonics, with his first draft pick being Kevin Durant. The Sonics were then sold to current owner, Clay Bennett, who then moved the Sonics to Oklahoma.
Presti pointed out, that the decision to draft Durant, was a no-brainer and that his development and the development of Russell Westbrook, was the most rewarding part of his job.
He also reflected, that the hardest decision he has had to make, so far, was trading James Harden to Houston, but knew Harden wasn’t the right fit for the Thunder, as he wanted to be the main scorer, on a team he played for.
Overall, I felt the camp was very well run, the atmosphere was supportive and friendly and a good opportunity for local Wellingtonians, to experience and get a chance to meet New Zealand’s very own NBA player in Steven Adams.
Highlights for me, included, watching Presti mentor a young Wellingtonian point guard and seeing Adams dunk over a few local talent.
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