Concluding the Thunder’s season, The Transcript is active a amateur appraisal series, attractive at a new amateur every Monday through Friday. This week, it’s the guards. Today’s player: point bouncer Semaj Christon.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Semaj Christon had no abstraction area he was activity to comedy advancing into this season.
Oklahoma City already had three point guards — Russell Westbrook, Cameron Payne and Ronnie Price — on affirmed contracts. Christon was active to a partially affirmed accord advancing into training camp. The automatic move would accept been for the Thunder to abandon him and afresh achievement he would be accommodating to assurance with the D-League associate Oklahoma City Blue, area Christon played two years ago.
It didn’t about-face out that way.
Christon played able-bodied abundant in training affected to affect drillmaster Billy Donovan, who internally accustomed befitting Christon. The Thunder concluded up waiving Price, advantageous him $5 actor to walk. Christon had becoming a atom on an NBA agenda for the aboriginal time in his life.
“I consistently acquainted I could play, but it was a big acquirements experience, too,” Christon said. “Just the game, the physicality, aggregate about the d was a acquirements experience.”
That action authentic Christon’s season. Aloof aback it seemed like he was out, he’d his way aback into relevance.
He began the year as the backup, bushing in for the afflicted Payne. Shortly afterwards the second-year point bouncer returned, sending Christon to third string, the Thunder traded Payne to Chicago. Christon became Westbrook’s advancement already afresh — until OKC brought in addition point guard, Norris Cole, who manned advancement duties for about a anniversary until Christon leapt over him to accost additional string.
Donovan’s tendencies were Christon-driven. Aloof like in training camp, the Thunder drillmaster kept advancing aback to him.
“Being with Semaj aftermost summer and seeing how he was in training affected and the advance that he made, for me as a drillmaster was absolutely rewarding, because it was the adamantine alley for him,” Donovan said. “It wasn’t the accessible road. It was the D-League. It was overseas. It was advancing back.”
Christon finds himself in a analogously ambiguous position this summer, alike admitting he’s beneath arrangement for the aing brace of seasons. Both of those years, though, are non-guaranteed. And the Thunder accept until July 7, a anniversary into chargeless agency, to adjudge whether they appetite to accumulate Christon’s 2017-18 bacon on the books.
“I’ve still got a lot added to do,” Christon said. “I’ve got to get better, so I’m activity to try to do that.”
It’s not like abandonment with Christon would save the Thunder abundant money. Christon makes only $1.3 million, and if they were to absolution him, they couldn’t aloof leave his atom empty. They’d charge to acquisition addition point bouncer to alter him.
So, it’s absolutely believable he apprehension up aback with the Thunder, alike if it’s in a beneath arresting role, a division afterwards OKC’s constant point bouncer issues abaft Westbrook.
“A lot of bodies accept mentioned that to me in the grocery abundance and added places,” accepted administrator Sam Presti joked about the Thunder’s broadly publicized struggles at advancement point.
Presti will accent advance abaft Westbrook this summer. But it’s not like Donovan aloof acclimated Christon in the 14 or so account Westbrook didn’t comedy anniversary game. In fact, he acclimated him in lineups aing to Westbrook backward in aing matches. He absolutely trusted Christon. And because of the assurance he becoming during his amateur season, Christon may acquisition himself in Oklahoma City already afresh aing year.
“The accommodation of Semaj and what he did, I couldn’t be any prouder of him because what he went through this year wasn’t easy,” Donovan said. “To accumulate yourself ready, abnormally actuality young, and it’s your aboriginal year in the league. He did a abundant job.”
Join The Transcript tomorrow aback we appraise Alex Abrines.
Fred Katz is the Thunder exhausted biographer for the Norman Transcript and CNHI Oklahoma as able-bodied as the host of the Locked on Thunder podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @FredKatz.
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