All of the Thunder players and coaches have experienced, in some form, the gradual process that it takes to make an adjustment that ensures a roster full of individuals into a cohesive unit.
With the changes in the NBA over the past few decades, roster turnover is much more prevalent, meaning players are used to acclimating new teammates on the fly. Each time, it’s a little bit different, depending on the players and the circumstances, which means this Thunder operation will have its own unique flow and timing too.
The coaches and players alike will be doing everything they possibly can to usher along the effectiveness of the collaboration of such a wide swath of talented players. Inevitably, however, there’s only one thing that truly aid the group: time. Head Coach Billy Donovan has been ensuring that his team stays patient, gets to know one another and doesn’t skip steps or cut corners.
“All those guys playing together and getting to know each other is important,” Donovan said. “The more they play with each other, the more comfortable they’ll get with working with one another.”
“Coach wants us to be ourselves,” forward Paul George explained. “He wants us to play our styles. All of us want each other to play their styles. We just have to be mindful.”
Camp Talk: Paul George
As George mentioned, there are highly talented players across the board that each have their unique skill sets that they bring to the table. In an ideal world, everyone will be put into situations to maximize their gifts. With Russell Westbrook at the helm, everyone’s job gets a little bit easier, sometimes removing the need to even call a set play. Instead, the team can work out of concepts that allow sharpshooters like George to simply choose his route and get open like a wide receiver.
“Russ is the only play,” joked George. “Russ is so good at attacking and finding guys to where I just have to make myself available.”
– Injury Update: Shooting guard Alex Abrines participated in some contact portions of practice on Monday which is a positive sign. It’s still to be determined whether or not Abrines will play on Tuesday night in Denver. Two players who definitely will not play are Patrick Patterson, who remains out as he recovers from a knee procedure, and Raymond Felton, who suffered a left wrist sprain on Sunday against Melbourne. Aside from those three players, Donovan suggested that the minutes, rotations and substitution patterns for the Thunder’s players will look much more like regular season versions on Tuesday against the Nuggets.
– The Thunder didn’t get out into transition as much as it would have liked on Sunday, but the team knows that if they can get out into the open floor, their chances of getting easy buckets rise dramatically. Throughout the preseason Westbrook has pushed tempo and found shooters like Carmelo Anthony spacing out to the perimeter during his attacking rim runs. At practice Monday, George said that if Westbrook and another Thunder teammate are heading downhill, at least one Thunder player has to stay beyond the arc to provide an outlet.
- “You can’t stay in front of Russ. If you allow Russ to get some space, nine times out of ten, he’s going to make the right play,” George said. “He’s going to finish at the rim or he’s going to draw in the defender, (and) he has Melo and I to release on the kick out.”
– The Thunder certainly had a size advantage against Melbourne on Sunday, but fans got a glimpse of what could be another team strength – offensive rebounding. Despite the loss of Enes Kanter, the Thunder still have highly athletic players across the board, including at the guard spots, which can help the team track down second chances. On Sunday, the Thunder grabbed 15 offensive boards which led to 15 second chance points.
- “We’re going to put ourselves in position to get extra possessions on offensive rebounds and defensively,” said George. “We’re going to give ourselves enough chances to win games when shots aren’t falling.”
Block party pics
A post shared by Oklahoma City Thunder (@okcthunder) on Oct 8, 2017 at 4:15pm PDT