Practice Report: Notes and Quotes
Nuggets from my notebook from day four of training camp.
- Today’s practice was chippy, according to Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “There’s no question that today was probably our most chippy — if that’s even the way to say it. But we scrimmaged a lot. Guys really got after it. Today was really, out of the four (practices) we’ve had, mainly all scrimmaging.”
- Asked which players were the biggest “chips,” Brooks said Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. “Kevin and Russell, they showed great leadership. They wanted to win and they didn’t win early on. But I thought they did a good job of coming back and competing and fighting through it.”
- There were three teams for the scrimmages, according to Brooks, and lineups were shuffled up so the starters (or those that are available) weren’t always together. Brooks said it’s a mixture “because there are some spots open.” Then he smiled.
- Of note, but by no means a surprise is James Harden continues to run with the second team despite Thabo Sefolosha’s injury. Harden seemed to take the assignment in stride, laughing and joking about it rather than fuming. Told he “can’t bust the lineup,” Harden responded “Can’t. Can’t do it. Them my guys. Me and Nick Collison, that’s my guy.” After turning serious, Harden said guys are just filling in on the first unit but the second unit has stayed the same.
- Brooks did say Sefolosha went through “a good portion of the practice” today. Kendrick Perkins, however, will be limited to non-contact drills through the end of the month.
- Harden on the “chippy” practice: “We love it. That’s how we get better. We talk smack to each other. We grab, hold, fight. That’s what makes us great; young guys that want to compete and get better every single day.”
- Nothing new has been put in through the first four days offensively or defensively, which is a bit surprising. It’s still early and there’s time to implement new things, but my expectation was for the staff to really spend time on developing a zone scheme. “We’re just going over some of the staples that we’ve had offensively and defensively,” Brooks said. “We haven’t put in too many new things. Some new drills, but eventually when we get everything down the way we want it we will add things to our team.”
- Brooks says he hasn’t been surprised by much of anything so far. But he said the seven new players have picked up things quickly. “We spend a lot of time with them before practice so that kind of helps them out,” Brooks said.
- Earlier this week, Brooks said it wouldn’t be fair for him to say what Daniel Orton and Hasheem Thabeet are and are not capable of doing. But after a few more days Brooks is starting to get comfortable with the two centers. “I like both of them. I like what they bring,” Brooks said. “Daniel, he has a good feel for the game. He has a good sense of where to be. He’s an offensive rebounder. He gets us extra possessions with his tap outs. And he has some toughness.”
- Brooks’ statements on Thabeet deserve its own nugget. “I think he has really done a good job,” Brooks said. “For a guy 7-3, you don’t normally say athletic. But he’s pretty athletic. He gets up and down the court. He can move pretty good. I’m happy with that.”
- Harden on Cole Aldrich: “Very good. Finishing around the rim, dunking, rebounding the basketball and setting great screens. That’s basically what we need out of him and he’s done a great job. The more repetition he gets the more he’ll be better at it.”
- Now for the daily Perry Jones III report: “Perry has done a great job; very athletic,” Harden said. “He’s been on that second unit with me as well so he’s kind of picking it up quick.” Unlike the rap on PJIII in college, Harden said no one here has had to prod him to go all out and use all his skills. “Nah (laughs),” Harden said. “We’ve seen it a lot the way he can jump. He’s so athletic it’s unbelievable, probably the most athletic on our team.”
- To recap, after four days we’ve had Brooks call PJIII as fast as anyone on the team and Harden say that he’s probably the most athletic on the team. No pressure.
- Lastly, a writer from the New York Times Magazine has been in town all week working on a feature on the Thunder. It’s his second time here in about three weeks, so I’m really looking forward to the piece. It’s expected to be published just before the start of the regular season.
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