The Thunder has yet to play a regular season game. But Russell Westbrook quickly established himself throughout training camp and the preseason as perhaps the most improved player on the roster. His improvement has been quantifiable, as seen in his increased assists and decreased turnovers, and unquantifiable, displayed in his patience and confidence on the court. But one small development in his game has stood out and could have a major impact on the Thunder this season. Westbrook is now coming to get the ball following defensive rebounds rather than relying on a risky outlet pass in traffic. It’s a small quirk Westbrook didn’t exhibit last season but one that could cut down on turnovers this year. "I learned,” Westbrook said. "Last year, I was running out and things like that. And after watching other point guards, you’ve got to come back and get the ball and run the team. I watched a lot of film of myself this summer and it’s just me seeing what I can get better at.”
DEFENSE IMPROVING SLOWLYDespite taking a few steps back defensively in the last three preseason games, the Thunder has used the past few days of practice to shore up its shell defense philosophy rather than ditch it. "These last three games, it broke down a little bit with (opponents) 3-point shooting, but you can’t waver,” said guard Kevin Ollie. "Our defensive system is evolving. We’ve got a unique team where we’ve got Jeff Green at (power forward), and we can do a lot of switching. We haven’t put that in yet, but you can do certain things and kind of junk up the game a little bit. But we’ve been really working on our fundamental principles, and hopefully our triangle behind whoever is pressuring the ball will be solid. Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he’s seen improvement in recent days, but the scheme is continuing to grow. "I think the better defending teams stick together, and they continue to build their philosophy as the season goes along,” Brooks said.
CAPTAINS SELECTEDBrooks officially announced that Green and Kevin Durant will serve as the team’s two captains this season. "I did it because I think they’re ready to accept that responsibility,” Brooks said. "I put a lot of pressure on captains. You have to be there for the team regardless of how you perform.”
BRIEFLYThabo Sefolosha said Monday that the Twitter page that appears to be his official account is actually a fake. Sefolosha said he doesn’t have an account and isn’t into social networking sites such as Twitter. ...James Harden was accidentally hit in the face near the end of practice by a teammate while trying to corral a loose ball. He sat on the court for a moment but got up and finished practice. ... Brooks put the team through its last long practice Monday before opening the regular season Wednesday against Sacramento. Brooks said today’s session will be a lighter practice.