Alex Abrines could drive in the United States, but he didn't have that valuable Oklahoma driver's license until Tuesday.
Call it the latest introduction to America for the 23-year-old. In his first year with the Thunder, Abrines set a Thunder record for 3-pointers in a season, struggled defensively, and put on 20 pounds, boosting his slender 6-foot-6 frame from 190 pounds to 211 in less than a year.
Abrines sat down to speak with The Oklahoman about his offseason plans, his troublesome right knee, his choice of car, and more:
Q: So, how was the driving test? Were you nervous?
A: “On the written test, I missed the first one and I was like ‘oh, s***.” But finally I got like 15 out of 16. That's pretty good. I was a little (nervous) but I've been driving for a year here. I was more nervous for the writing test.”
Did you drive in Spain?
“Yeah. I had the international license for here, but the insurance was expensive. Now, it's less a month. I want to stay here for a long time, so that would be good.”
How is it different driving in the U.S. compared to Spain?
“I would say it's easier here because the roads are so big. There's smaller roads (in Spain). You can turn right on a red light. We can't do that (in Spain). That was the biggest thing.”
What kind of car do you drive?
“2016 Camaro. American dream (laughs). I really love that car. When I saw the first Transformers I fell in love.”
Manual or automatic?
“Automatic. It's easier but manual is more fun. I miss that. It's been like three years. (Former Lakers guard Marcelo) Huertas, he played for Barcelona and he had a Mustang and it was manual. He let me in the car one day and it was awesome. Probably when I'm older I'll buy like some Ferrari or Lamborghini, but not like a bunch of them. One is enough.”
What's your schedule been like since the season ended?
“I went to Spain for two weeks, then I came back and we've been taking care of my (right) knee because I got PRP (platelet rich plasma injections) right after the season. The first week-and-a-half was more treatment, lifting everyday, not a lot of things on the court. After about 10 days, we started actual workouts. Lifting an hour-and-a-half, little bit of movement, then on the court for 45 minutes every day Monday through Thursday.”
And how is your knee? You've had that PRP treatment on it multiple times.
“Today (Wednesday) was the first day I dunked the ball jumping off the right. I can feel it. I got (PRP) for the first time when I was 18 or 19, but I didn't have a chance to stop (playing) because I had an Under-20 tournament. So, I stopped for a week after that and it didn't heal the same way. We repeated it the next year and we stopped for a month, and I didn't get this again until this year.”
Do you feel confident in your health right now?
“Yes because it'd been four or five years since the last one. This year we did the right thing, stopping for two weeks, then rehabbing a little bit, starting slowly. I think it's going to get better and we don't have repeat it for the next three years at least (knocks on table). I hope so. It's kind of a pain where it doesn't stop you from doing everything, it just a pain in the a**. You can do 100 percent, buy you don't feel 100 percent. That's the annoying part.”
You mentioned having Thunder assistant Darko Rajakovic come to your home in Mallorca to help train with you. Has that been a good connection for you since coming over from Barcelona?
“Yeah, especially because he speaks Spanish and he's been in Spain. He's a Real Madrid fan, so that's kind of the worse thing about him. But it's been good. In the beginning I was a little shy with you guys and he helped me to get through all this.”
Do you feel like you're going to be able to accomplish what you want to this summer not playing in Summer League?
“Yeah. I think the biggest deal was weight. Ten pounds in those four weeks, I think we did a pretty good job. Then, Eurobasket – on the 28th of July we'll meet (the Spanish National Team) in Madrid. Then we start practicing for two weeks.”
The weight you've gained since the end of the season, was that a goal of yours going into the offseason?
“In the summer time you don't have games so you can lift a little bit more than usual and work on your body. I need that to play at the highest level in the NBA. I think that was a big step I needed – just four weeks. It didn't take long. I'm still going to work more, maybe weigh a couple pounds more but the goal was that, and we did it in four weeks. It was pretty hard in the beginning, but it's not all on the court and basketball. You've gotta work on your body also. This is the best moment to do it.”
BY ERIK HORNE
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