LOS ANGELES – In Derek Fisher, the Thunder have the greatest Los Angeles Lakers scout in America.
Fisher played point guard for the Lakers for more than 12½ seasons in his 16-year career.
He was the brains on the court for 915 career games, which was nine more than Magic Johnson. No one this side of Kobe Bryant knows the Lakers' objectives and tendencies better than Fisher.
"He knows Kobe's game better than anybody," OKC coach Scott Brooks said of Fisher.
No outsider is more qualified to scout the Lakers than Fisher, who on Thursday returns to Staples Center for the first time since signing as a free agent with OKC on March 21. Tipoff is at 9:40 p.m. on TNT.
"We definitely will talk to him and we have already," Brooks said.
Players who help scout their former team is nothing new, though the overall worth might be overstated.
"Teams know each other extremely well with advanced scouts and technology," said the 37-year-old Fisher, who has seen the league go high-tech since the Lakers drafted him 24th overall in 1996 out of Arkansas-Little Rock. "It doesn't necessarily make things easy, but at least some affirmation is accessible. I'll be able to add some things in terms of tendencies in personnel, but these coaches are great. They spend hour after hour studying guys. They probably know more than I do about the Lakers."
Fisher's transition to OKC has been remarkably smooth, particularly given the lack of practice time. Rarely has anyone needed to re-direct Fisher at either end of the court, though Kevin Durant did motion Fisher to the opposite side while running a play to close out a quarter.
The Thunder's spacing seems more effective when Fisher is on the court.
Primarily playing the role of backup shooting guard, Fisher is averaging 3.8 points and has committed just one turnover in 88:14 of playing time.
Shooting has been Fisher's shortcoming. He has shot just 22.7 percent (5 for 22) from the field and 25.0 percent (3 for 12) from 3-point range.
This includes a horrendous 2-for-11 shooting night in a double-overtime victory against Minnesota last Friday. Afterward, Fisher pointed out overtime wouldn't have been necessary had he shot better in regulation.
"He hasn't shot the ball as well as he's going to," Brooks said. "There are a lot of factors involved in that. He's still trying to learn our system where he will get looks. He has gotten some good looks and will continue to get good looks."
Why has the overall move been so smooth for Fisher?
"It's a combination of experience and having played with multiple teams in a lot of situations that are similar from watching this team," Fisher said. "As soon as I signed, I got a playbook and also a video playbook, so I've been spending a lot of time there, just trying to make sure that I'm not putting coach in a position where he can't trust me on the floor at any time. So no matter how many minutes I play, I want him (Brooks) to be able to call whatever plays he needs to call to give us the best chance to be successful."
Fisher's transition off the court has been much more difficult. Married with four children, Fisher was uprooted from family after parting ways with the Lakers on March 15. The Thunder had Wednesday off, which gave Fisher some family time with his return home.
"Obviously, life changes quickly and there's a lot going on with the family, with my kids and those things," Fisher said. "But on the court and around this team – the community in Oklahoma City – it's everything and more than I imagined in terms of how good it would be to be around these guys. From the first player to the 15th player, every guy has been great. All the coaches, everybody has just been wonderful to work with, so I'm looking forward to continuing this process, getting to know these guys better."
Fisher will meet with LA media during Thursday morning's shoot-around session at Santa Monica High School and also during the 45-minute interview window before the game. The Lakers will show a video honoring Fisher during pre-game.
"I'm sure he's going to be very excited about going back and getting a well-deserved standing ovation," Brooks said. "Obviously, the guys there love him and he should be loved."
THUNDER VS. LAKERS
When: 9:30 p.m.
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles
TV: TNT (Cox 31, HD Ch. 730)
Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM
Three things to know
* The Lakers are 20-4 at Staples Center this season, but have been defeated in two of their last three outings at home.
* The Thunder ranks second in field-goal percentage offense (.478) and seventh in field-goal percentage defense (.430).
* Through 50 games, OKC led the NBA in scoring by one point (5,187-5,186) over the Denver Nuggets at 103.7 per game.
Pos. - Player - Ht. - Pts. - Reb. - Ast.
G - Russell Westbrook - 6-3 - 24.2 - 4.5 - 5.5
G - Thabo Sefolosha - 6-7 - 5.0 - 2.5 - 0.9
F - Kevin Durant - 6-9 - 27.8 - 8.1 - 3.5
F - Serge Ibaka - 6-10 - 9.0 - 7.9 - 3.3-x
C - Kendrick Perkins - 6-10 - 4.7 - 6.2 - 1.2-x
G - Kobe Bryant - 6-6 - 28.3 - 5.5 - 4.7
G - Ramon Sessions - 6-3 - 10.9 - 3.2 - 5.4
F - Pau Gasol - 7-0 - 16.8 - 10.6 - 3.3
F - Metta World Peace - 6-7 - 6.0 - 3.1 - 2.1
C - Andrew Bynum - 7-0 - 18.2 - 12.2 - 2.0-x