Most NBA rookies follow a similar path: Get drafted; go to training camp; work hard to find your role within the team over the course of the first month of the season. Domantas Sabonis has had a much more interesting start to his career, though.
After being drafted by the Orlando Magic, the young Lithuanian was promptly traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder where he was walking into the fallout of one of the biggest off-season player movements in recent times. When it was time for the season to kick off, another challenge was thrown Sabonis’ way when he was named to the starting lineup as the Thunder kicked off their 2016-17 campaign.
If that wasn’t enough, just over a week into the season, the young rookie was thrust into the pressure cooker that is Oracle arena to face off against one of his team’s most fierce rivals, as well as ex-OKC superstar Kevin Durant.
Speaking about the first week of his NBA career, Sabonis told starting5online, “Everything’s been really busy and new, I’m just trying to adapt as fast as possible, and I’ve got great coaching staff and team mates to help me through the process.”
For players coming straight out of the college game, it generally takes a while to adjust to the pace of the NBA. Sabonis is no exception, noting that he needs to change everything to adapt and compete with the best players in the league.
When asked about what was running through his head as he stepped onto the hardwood to start Thursday’s game against the Warriors, the rookie spoke about treating it just like any other game.
“We’ve got to come out like we did in the previous 4 games – play hard, play our way and get the win.”
Sabonis praised his team mates for helping him as he has worked to find him place in the Thunder squad (in particular Steven Adams and Nick Collison) for taking him under their wings during training camp – as well as getting some tips on how to match up on Draymond Green.
“I talked to Steven and trust him more than anything. He’s been here for a long time and he knows the game, he’s defended all these guys and has helped me a lot.”
It might only be just over a week into the NBA season, and his career, but with every game that The Thunder play, Sabonis appears to be developing into one of the most exciting rookies in the game, and even though his dance skills might need some work still – he’s going to be a player to keep an eye on in the future.