Wednesday, 10 July 2013

1-on-1 with Thabo Sefolosha

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of talking with Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha at his annual youth basketball camp in Blonay, Switzerland. The defensive specialist is the first Swiss player in the NBA and had a lot to say about this past season and the upcoming season. Let's go!

Chris: What are some positives and negatives from this past season for the Thunder?
Thabo: There is a lot of positive. We had a great season, finished first in the conference and I think the team keeps getting better. There is a lot of positive to this. Obviously the negative you know it’s the playoffs and getting out of the playoffs early. But it’s unfortunate there are a lot of things we cannot control and injury is one of them.

Chris: On the subject of injury, how does Westbrook’s injury/return affect the team?
Thabo: I mean it affected missing not only an all-star player but a point guard which is maybe the most important position on the court. So losing that player at that time was really tough.

How far do you think the Thunder would have made it if Russell had not gotten hurt?
You know I like to believe that we could be champions right now but at the same time there is nothing that we can do about it. We will never know so we got to keep working and keep getting better.

Did you follow the rest of the playoffs and if so what are your thoughts on it?
Yeah I wasn't happy but at the same time I don’t care. We didn't win so somebody else had to win so it’s Miami. But I didn't follow that too closely but yeah, it is what it is. Hopefully we get there again and be able to win it.

How do you feel about Kevin Martin leaving after a year?
You know I really enjoyed playing with Kevin, not only as a player on the court but off the court he is a great guy. You know it’s sad to see him leave but I’m happy for him you know I think he got a great contract and it’s a great team that he is going to so I wish him luck.

How do you plan to expand your offensive game to help make up for the loss of Kevin?
In a big way. Obviously I am working really hard this summer. It’s not always only on me but what I can do on my part I will definitely do throughout the summer and try to be aggressive early in the season.

Points and shooting percentage went up for you this year. Why?
Work. I understand what coaches want me to do, what my role to be. I work really hard in the summer you know to fulfill that role and help the team get better.

As a defender how does it feel to guard the other team’s best player on a nightly basis?
It’s an honor. It’s an honor you know. It’s tiring and it’s a lot of work but it’s an honor to be in that position coming from where I’m coming from, playing against those great players. It’s a great feeling.

How do you prepare for LeBron James or Kobe Bryant?
You prepare pretty much the same for every player. You watch some tape; try to think the game, see what they like to do and what they don’t like to do. And then it’s just instinct during the game.

Now, you have one year left on your contract. Have you started thinking about what you are going to do when that time comes?
Yes and no. Obviously you know I am thinking about what the future holds for me but at the same time I am not worried about it. You know my main focus is it to work and do the things that I have been doing. I am sure everything is going to turn out okay, but I’m definitely not nervous but it’s something that is in the back of my mind. But I don’t let it affect me at all.

Would you like to stay with the Thunder?
Of course of course I mean we have a team that keeps getting better. I got with the Thunder when we were winning 25 games and to now going to a final and semi-final it’s an incredible situation.

Are you happy with the Thunder organization since you are such an important part of the chemistry that works so well for the team?
Yeah, yeah I definitely KNOW that they are going in the right direction. There is no question in my mind that Sam, coach and everybody is doing the best they can. It is not always exactly what we want. And I understand as a fan you might not understand all the ins and outs of it, but it gives us leeway in the years to come.

What do you like most about living in Oklahoma?
There are a lot of things actually. Not comparing it to Switzerland but the people are really nice, the fans are incredible, the organization is top in the NBA and I got a young family. It’s a great place to raise a family.

If you were not playing in OKC where would you like to be?
In Vevey (Switzerland). My good friend is coaching here and I would be close to home so yeah.

Are you going to be a part of the 2014 NBA Finals championship team?

Thank you to everyone who submitted questions for Thabo. Follow him on Twitter @ThaboSefolosha 

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