OKC Thunder: Season restart could be reset for Terrance Ferguson
When Terrance Ferguson isn’t practicing, the Thunder guard spends his days in an endless game of phone tag.
Lylah Rose Ferguson is only 20 months old, but she already knows how to reach her dad.
“I’ve been trying to call her at least three times a day, but she blows my phone up at least 50 times,” Ferguson said. “That’s pretty special that we keep that connection going even though I’m so far away.”
Ferguson, like other Thunder players, coaches and staff members, has been away from his family since arriving at Disney World two weeks ago. But the four-month break between the season suspension and restart gave Ferguson a chance to spend more time with his daughter instead of jetting from city to city for games.
“Each and every day I was trying to do something different with her,” Ferguson said. “I even bought her one of those huge blow-up bounce houses. We was in that every day. Swimming every day. I even took her when I went on walks in the afternoon even though I had to pick her up like halfway through it.”
Those long walks and summer swims doubled as workouts for Ferguson, who said he didn’t have access to a gym until the Thunder practice facility reopened.
Ferguson’s role when the season resumes is perhaps more unpredictable than that of any player on the Thunder roster.
At his best, Ferguson is a valuable “3-and-D” wing who contributes on both ends of the floor. Other times, Ferguson is timid offensively with defensive numbers that don’t back up the eye test. Ferguson’s defensive rating is more than three points worse than last season. The Thunder allows 110.8 points per 100 possessions with Ferguson on the floor.
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But his defense is still respected in the Thunder locker room.
“What he has to do every game and what’s asked of him is very, very difficult,” center Steven Adams said. “It’s one of those jobs where you won’t get as much praise as you should publicly, but that’s OK. Internally it needs to be very much appreciated, which it is.
“We put him on the top players on the other teams and he has to just do his best, and he does. Every single play he’s just busting his ass.”
Ferguson’s pesky perimeter defense made him a staple in the starting lineup since the beginning of last season, but his lack of availability this season has resulted in a diminished role.
Ferguson missed a road game in November to attend a child custody hearing. He missed five games in December with right hip soreness. He missed eight games in January for undisclosed personal reasons, which led to Luguentz Dort taking Ferguson’s starting spot.
Thunder coach Billy Donovan hasn’t committed to keeping Dort in the starting five, which could open the door back up for Ferguson. Andre Roberson will also be in the mix if healthy, which creates more competition among the Thunder’s glut of defense-first wings.
The time away from basketball, and time with his daughter, could serve as a mental reset for Ferguson. He’s shooting just 37.2% from the floor, and his 3-point shooting dropped from 36.6% last season to 29.7% this season. Ferguson began to turn down open shots as his numbers slipped.
“I think as he gets older he’ll become a more consistent 3-point shooter,” Donovan said. “He’s got a good stroke, he’s got good form. He’ll put the time in. As he grows up and matures physically, I think you’ll see more consistency.”
Ferguson, despite being in his third season, is still just 22.
“I think he really understands who he is as a player,” Donovan said, “and he tries to play to his strengths.”