Practice Report: Notes and Quotes
Nuggets from my notebook from Monday’s practice.
- The biggest bit of info that came out of practice today is that Kendrick Perkins participated in nearly all of the practice. That’s good news, but as Perk told me Friday night there still is no new timeline for his return. The team continues to target the start of the regular season for him.
- Scott Brooks on trying to keep Perk out of contact drills: “That’s like pulling teeth with him.”
- Thabo Sefolosha is close to joining the lineup, though. After missing the first two games with a quad injury, Sefolosha went through all of today’s practice. Brooks said Sefolosha probably won’t play Tuesday in the preseason opener against Charlotte. But it’s highly likely that Thabo will play Friday against Phoenix in Tulsa.
- James Harden is still out with a groin injury. He will not play Tuesday.
- Daniel Orton will make his debut Tuesday. He’ll split time with Hasheem Thabeet behind Cole Aldrich.
- That worries me. Thabeet got the backup center minutes in the first two games, but Orton has to split time with Thabeet in the third game. What’s up with that? Methinks it’s pretty telling regarding where the team stands on Orton v. Thabeet. There will be four preseason games remaining after Tuesday, so there’s plenty of minutes left to be had. But cuts will begin soon, and if Orton doesn’t get much time I think that shows where he is in the pecking order.
- Once Orton checks in, that will leave Walker Russell Jr. as the lone camp body that hasn’t logged at least one minute.
- Brooks was pleased with Hollis Thompson’s 20-minute debut Friday at Utah. “I thought he played well,” Brooks said. “He’s been a great addition to our camp. He’s doing the things that we need. He spreads the floor. He makes shots. He can be another long defender. But like every rookie in this league it takes time to learn the system, learn your opponent. But I thought he had a great showing. I was happy for him.”
- Brooks on what the team wants Thabeet to focus on: “I think he can really help us just clogging up the paint. Everybody knows he’s 7-foot-3 and he’s athletic. We just want to keep it very simple with him; protect the basket, continue to get our defensive coverages down, use your length, block some shots, rebound defensively and offensively be ready to catch the ball and be ready to finish off of your catches because we have some dynamic players that can get into the paint and can demand double teams. So he has to just be ready to catch those passes and finish those passes.”
- By now most of you know that Thabeet fouled out of both the first two preseason games. But Brooks said he’s not concerned with it. (Why should he be when Thabeet won’t log enough minutes in the regular season to be in any real foul trouble?) “That’s just part of it,” Brooks said. “You have to be able to play through it. At this point, I just tell him don’t worry about it. I’m not concerned about the six fouls. Just go out there and play aggressive but be smart. The fouls that he had last game, you can live with them. Eventually those are going to decrease as time goes by.”
- Two things Brooks liked in the first two games: the rebounding in the first half against the Jazz, and the ball movement at Utah. One thing he didn’t like: the transition defense.
- Brooks on the transition defense: “Teams normally don’t run on us because we can run it back on them. But the last two games they did a good job by really pushing the pace and getting easy layups.”
- A little more on why transition D has been an issue early. “The fundamental principles are you have to get back on the shot,” Brooks said. “And sometimes what we do is we watch. We watch and see if we’re going to get the rebound, see if we’re going to get the offensive rebound for a kick-out shot. Or we have perimeter players that attack the basket so it puts our floor balance weighted in the wrong direction. So those are things that we have to address.”
- Serge Ibaka said the team also needs to work on being more aggressive, boxing out, getting defensive rebounds and getting easy baskets.
- Thabeet said the team spent a good portion of today’s practice drilling on defending pick and rolls better.
- For those that don’t know, Ibaka got a good amount of low-post touches at Utah, his first game this preseason. He talked a bit about his back-to-the-basket game today. “I’ve been working on my back-to-the-basket game for two years. Right now my coaches and my teammates just try to give me confidence. I can’t do everything right in the first game or the first time. It’s a process. I will (get used to it). I will make some mistakes and learn after the mistakes.”
- I asked Ibaka how comfortable he feels on the block right now. “I feel comfortable,” Ibaka said. “Like I said, it’s the first time…where my coach is asking me to get down in the post. I know I have a lot to learn. But it’s a great opportunity for me to try to figure out what I need to do good, what I need to keep working on.”
- In case you missed it, here’s a little piece I did looking back on Serge Ibaka’s perfect night from Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.
- Tickets for Tuesday’s game are still available if you’re interested. Go to Thunder.nba.com for seats.
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