Much of the talk immediately after the Thunder's loss to Miami in the Finals centered on plans to integrate a zone defense this preseason.
But with the seven-game exhibition schedule complete, and the season opener less than a week away, the Thunder still hasn't shown any signs of adding the defensive scheme. Thunder coach Scott Brooks, however, said there's still time.
“We still have six days of training camp,” Brooks said Friday.
A zone, many believe, would have been beneficial against the Heat. But even when the strategy is put in, Brooks said he will not be reliant on it.
“We will spend a fair amount of time (on it), but we're not going to spend a lot of time because that's not going to be a staple,” Brooks said. “It's going to be something that we will throw out there as a change of pace, just a wrinkle that we will throw with our defense. But we are a man-to-man (defensive team). When we play our best man-to-man we're really playing a good zone. But we will definitely tinker in some zone this year.”
DURANT DEVELOPING PASSING
Kevin Durant finished the preseason with 21 assists against seven turnovers.
While those stats are in no way the assist-to-turnover rate anyone should expect from Durant this season, they do provide a glimpse into how he has improved as a playmaker and perhaps foreshadow what might be in store this season.
“I hope so,” Durant said. “I just got to be more patient and make the right plays. So we'll see.”
In his previous five seasons, Durant has never finished with more assists than turnovers. For his career, he has 1,073 assists and 1,194 turnovers.
BACK TO THE BASICS
Brooks on Friday joked that the layoff between the preseason finale and the regular season opener feels like a second training camp. But the goal is to use the time wisely. For the Thunder, that means focusing on fundamentals.
“We have a mindset that we have to approach each day with, and that is play with great effort, play with the fundamentals and also play with toughness,” Brooks said. “When we do those three things we see a big improvement every day. That's always been our focus.
“Going into this stretch of days that we have, we'll add a few more things going into the start of the season. And then we'll have plenty of time during the season to add a thing or two here or there.”
CUT DAY COMING SOON
No training camp invitees were waived Friday, but Brooks said the roster will be trimmed to the league-maximum 15 players soon.
Only one player between DeAndre Liggins, Daniel Orton, Hollis Thompson and Andy Rautins will make the final roster.
“We'll make that decision in the next day or two,” Brooks said. “Like I've said all along, all of them have done very well. They've put themselves in a good position. Obviously we can't keep them all. That's going to be a tough decision. But that's going to happen soon.”
If you include Saturday, the Thunder has just five days to come to terms on a contract extension with James Harden before Wednesday's deadline. One reason for optimism is the Thunder's track record of getting deals done under the gun. Last year, Russell Westbrook signed his extension six days before the deadline. In 2009, Thabo Sefolosha inked a four-year deal just three days before the deadline. … A photography crew from The New York Times Magazine attended practice Friday. The crew had a shoot scheduled with seven players to run with a feature in the magazine that is expected to be out in early November. … Nike will make official merchandise of Durant available in December. The clothing and apparel line is expected to include T-shirts, hats and backpacks among other things marked with his signature “KD” logo.