As the teams on the court change, the affiliations in the crowd switch, with only one constant, representatives from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Even with so many different organizations in attendance, the affiliates of the Thunder seem to be flooding the building.
Kevin Durant has taken a brief vacation from his rehabilitation to attend each of the first three days of the Summer League tournament.
The four-time scoring champion has spent as much time as possible with new coach Billy Donovan. Durant took the two and a half hour flight to Orlando so he could watch the process of his new coaching staff and establish a relationship with his newest teammates.
“I’ve been around for Summer League practices, I know it’s a little different, but just seeing how coach approaches practice. I’m just trying to learn and get ready for them,” Durant said. “I can be a better teammate, a better friend to my teammates.”
The entire organization has echoed the sentiments of Durant, simply by just being in attendance. The Thunder essentially uprooted its entire organization from Oklahoma City to come to Summer League.
Tuesday, as the Thunder secured a 73-65 victory over the Orlando Magic Blue team, improving its record to 2-0 in tournament play, several Thunder players were in attendance alongside Durant.
“That’s the type of organization we are, we’re a family,” Morrow said. “We are enjoying are time together. We check in on each other anyway, we saw the opportunity to come out here in Orlando and support, so that’s what we are doing.”
The Western Conference powerhouse just missed the playoffs last season, largely due to the fractured right foot of Durant that required two surgeries to correct and it is clear the organization has no intentions of selecting in the draft lottery for a second consecutive season.
The only solace the Thunder received for its season was the opportunity to select Murray State guard Cameron Payne with the 14th overall pick.
Payne has played point guard his entire life, but may be forced into shifting over to shooting guard or becoming a backup, as All-Star Russell Westbrook is entrenched at the point.
Wherever Payne plays next season, his stint in Summer League was derailed by an injury to his right hand. While participating in a pre-draft workout with Denver, Payne severely bruised his right hand and a lingering issue with his finger forced him to the bench.
After averaging 20.2 points, 6.0 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game as a sophomore in college, Payne has spent his summer with a specially designed glove on his right hand.
While he hasn’t been on the floor, he realizes the impact the presence of Durant, Morrow and Waiters has made.
“For them to come watch the games, I know those guys love it,” Payne said. “They pick up energy from them, just from them sitting there because they all want to do their best and show what they can do for the program.”
The solidarity of the Thunder organization is exactly what prompted Donovan to leave the University of Florida after 19 seasons at the school.
He almost left for the Magic in 2007, but ultimately decided to stay with the Gators.
This summer, he decided to make the jump to the NBA with the belief that Oklahoma City was a natural fit.
Only he faces immense pressure to immediately succeed, as the team has averaged over 52 wins over the past six seasons and has two of the most dominant players in the league.
Two months into his tenure, Donovan is starting to feel at home with the Thunder.
“I think the one thing that has helped being in Oklahoma City [since] the beginning of May, I’ve had a chance to spend enough time with all those guys which has been great,” Donovan said. “It’s a very good group in terms of there’s a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge. I think we all can make each other better.”