“I just welcome it,” Weaver said during a phone interview from the Ford Center prior to Monday night’s game with the visiting New Jersey Nets.
“Oh yeah. I like that. I know I’m going to be on him at some point. I’ve just got to be ready. It’s always fun to play against the best. It lets you know where your game is.”
Weaver’s first season in the NBA has been similar to his first season at WSU -- too many losses on a young team and, at times, limited minutes on the court for him. Weaver’s playing time has increased significantly in recent weeks – he’s already logged more minutes this month than he did in November and December combined. He logged a season-high 23 minutes in a game against the Clippers on Friday.
And the Thunder has made progress after a dreadful 2-24 start that cost head coach P.J. Carlesimo his job at the 1-12 point.
Slowed early by a preseason groin injury, Weaver has played in 21 games for the 10-35 Thunder. The 6-foot-6 wing is averaging 13.1 minutes, 3.2 points, 1.9 assists and 1.8 rebounds per game. He is shooting 51 percent from the field, including 40 percent on 3-pointers, and 67 percent at the free-throw line. He has nine steals, four blocked shots and 21 turnovers.
WEAVER'S PLAYING TIME HAS SOARED IN RECENT WEEKS.|
“I’m improving,” Weaver said. “The team is getting better.”
Still, the Thunder has already lost one more game than the Cougars lost in Weaver’s last final three college seasons combined. One year after helping WSU reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, Weaver said the pain of losing has been lessened somewhat by the college-like camaraderie of the young Thunder.
“We actually live -- most of the players -- in (suburban) Edmond, Okla., where our practice facility is,” Weaver said. “A lot of us go out and eat together … and we go to teammates’ houses, little things like that.
“We just hang out, relax, watch TV. They have friends come over, and we chill out. When we do good, we try to relax and have fun when we can. We’re all pretty close, which is cool, especially being on a team where we used to struggle a lot. You might have a situation where nobody likes each other, but we all get along really well.”
Weaver, who lives by himself in a rented house, said Oklahoma City is “a real nice city with a nice downtown area with a lot of restaurants.” The transplanted Seattle SuperSonics regularly fill the 19,136-seat Ford Center in the team’s first season in Oklahoma City.
“It’s been great,” Weaver said. “The fans in Oklahoma City are unbelievable.
“We have sellout crowds just about every night. With that kind of support, it’s hard not to go out and play hard.”
Weaver, who grew up in a “working-class” family in Beloit, Wis., will make more than $800,000 this season. That’s almost double the NBA minimum of $442,114.
“It’s one of those things, I’m like, ‘What do I DO with this thing?’” Weaver said about his twice-monthly pay checks.
Weaver said he hasn’t bought too many items for himself, but he did surprise his parents by presenting them with a new car when they visited Oklahoma City last month.
You can’t blame Weaver for wanting to save money, because he knows he’s going to be shelling out plenty for tickets when the Thunder makes its first appearance in Milwaukee on April 11. Beloit is 75 miles southwest of Milwaukee.
“I know it’s going to be crazy when that time comes,” he said. “There’s going to be about a hundred phone calls for tickets.”
Ah, the price of fame. Weaver is dealing with it just fine. “I’m living the dream,” he said. “I’m doing what I want to do.”
NOTABLE WEAVER NOTES:
You can take the kids out of Bennett Ball but you can't take Bennett Ball out of the kid. Thunder head coach Scott Brooks lauded Weaver in a recent newspaper article: "The one thing I like is he’s always treated practices like a game. He gets there early. He has pushed our players. Those are character traits you want.
When he showcases his talents, players think, ‘Wait a minute. We’ve got to somehow get this guy in a game.’”
Weaver had a prime seat at Oklahoma City's recent Marther Luther King Day celebration. He was two teammates were in a horse-drawn carriage that was part of the city's parade.
Life in the NBA is hectic, but when there's a spare moment and the Cougs are on TV you know well where Weaver will be. He spent last Saturday afternoon watching the Cougs' late meltdown against USC.
Kyle’s sister, Shel’si, is averaging 4.9 points and 2.2 rebounds as a reserve forward at Ashford University, an NAIA school in Clinton, Iowa. She’s a junior transfer from Illinois Valley Community College.
CF.C caught up recently with two of Weaver’s classmates at Washington State. Click below for the latest on Derrick Low and Robbie Cowgill ...
-- Low honing skills in France, watches Cougs from afar
-- Cowgill finds his calling, keeps eye on Cougs