Q&A: Cameron Payne

Courtesy of Erik Horne

On what the process has been like for him returning from his foot fracture

“It’s been long. It’s been challenging, and there’s been a lot of adversity. But God puts you through situations for a reason. I feel like he put me through this situation. I got stronger and that’s what I needed in my game, so hopefully at the end of the day, it helps me in the long run.”

On how he was helped playing two games for the Oklahoma City Blue 

“It was cool. It was cool to get out there and play. It was the first time in forever I got to get out there in a game, 5-on-5 action. It was cool trying to get my rhythm back so it was just fun out there playing with those guys. We got two wins out of it and I’m happy for the victory.”

On how he feels about his conditioning after being out three months 

“I feel pretty safe with it. I think I’ll be good. We (the Blue) played in Utah, so I definitely got my wind back there. But being able to play out there, keep playing, run on the court both ends, run on fast breaks, I feel like I’ll be ready.”

On what he’s most looking forward to in his return to the Thunder

“Just being out there with the team, being able to contribute and come out at the end of the day with a win. That’s all that it’s about and like I said, just being around my teammates. I’ve been here. They’ve been gone. Just being able to be with them everyday means a lot being able to get that chemistry back.”

On if he’s going to dance in pregame with Russell Westbrook 

“I don’t know man. I don’t know. I’m here to hoop, man.”

On what he worked on while injured

“Letting plays develop, the game slowing down, because me sitting down and watching, you see a lot more things than when you’re out there playing all the time. So, me just sitting there watching, looking at other players on the other team instead of just being thrown in the fire. So, it’s been a real big-time learning curve for me. And me and coach Smoke (Royal Ivey), we did a lot looking over film, with me being out, so I feel that’s gonna help me a lot.”

On struggling in his first game backshooting well in the second gameand the differences

“The first game, I was anxious and nervous to get out there. I felt like going back and analyzing the film, I kinda rushed a lot of shots. I was trying to force a rhythm instead of letting it come to me. In the second game, I just took the shots the defense gave me instead of trying to force it. And as you see looking at the stats, that was a big change. Down the road, just let the game come to me and find a good rhythm.”

On what it’s been like watching the Thunder in close games, knowing he could help

“It’s been fun to see us go up, go down, and we fight through it, end up getting the wins and things like that. It’s just been cool, like I said earlier, learning when you can foul, when you don’t need to foul. Watching Russ has been a great mentor during the whole process and what he’s been doing at the end of the games has been spectacular. He’s been doing a great job. And our defense has been real good. We just gotta keep it up in those last four minutes.”

On Westbrook talking about using being out as a learning experience, what Payne has learned so far (from him)

“The main thing he said is take your time. When I get out there just let it come to you, find your rhythm. Let it come to you when you get back out there and start playing but don’t rush it.”

On what he’s learned defensively

“Oh man, getting over screens. Me being out, lifting weights, I hope I wouldn’t get stuck on screens as much as I did my first year. But getting over ball screens, running through screens, not getting stuck, and getting switched up in the post being able to get around. There’s a lot of little quickness things. Where to put my hands, where not to, and to stay out of foul trouble.”

On the preseason trade rumors and how they affected him

“I heard it but it really didn’t matter. I’ve still gotta come here every day and work my tail off. It don’t matter. Like you say, it’s a rumor. I’m just here to come play basketball and get better with the team I’m with.”

On if he knows how many minutes he’ll play Saturday night

“Nah I have no idea. I’m going to have a uniform on, that’s all I know, and I’m happy.”

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