OKC Thunder: Thunder tries to 'pass' the test

Thunder coach Scott Brooks said his team must improve its passing if it's going to return to the NBA Finals this season.
BY JOHN ROHDE Published: October 6, 2012
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photo - Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) looks to pass the ball past New Orleans Hornets forward DaJuan Summers (22) during the NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the New Orleans Hornets at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) looks to pass the ball past New Orleans Hornets forward DaJuan Summers (22) during the NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the New Orleans Hornets at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

The 6-foot-9 Durant has a ridiculous 7-foot-5 wingspan, which makes his jumper almost impossible to block for forwards of similar height. Facing Jones in practice offers a challenge in length that Durant rarely sees.

“He's a guy that can play multiple positions, and he can guard multiple players,” Brooks said. “And that's always a big asset to our team.”

How has Jones done defensively against Durant?

“I try the best that I can to use my length and just try to stay in front of him and just make it hard for him to make shots,” Jones said.

How many of Durant's shots has Jones blocked?

“I blocked one,” Jones said with a smile. “One out of like … 80.”

NITPICKING KD

Durant's free-throw percentage dipped to .860 last season, the lowest of his five-year NBA career. He shot .900 in 2009-10 and has a career percentage of .878.

Brooks agreed that it was nitpicking to discuss Durant's free-throw percentage.

“I like to nitpick Kevin,” Brooks said. “You have to because he's a great player right now. If you don't nitpick him, who knows how much better he can become, so we always do it. He wants the coaches to do it. We look for ways to challenge him and ways for him to get better.”

TIP-INS

Reserve guard Daequan Cook twisted his ankle at Friday's practice, but participated in Saturday's workout. … Sunday will be the Thunder's first off day of training camp. OKC's preseason opener is Thursday against the Houston Rockets in Hidalgo, Texas, near the Mexican border. … Brooks called Saturday's practice a “developmental” day. “Just a lot of individual development and a lot of team concepts and we had some agility drills,” Brooks said. “It was an hour and 15 minutes, but it was a lot of activity and the intensity was pretty high.” … Jones prefers to be referred to as Perry Jones III rather than Perry Jones and that's why he chose jersey No. 3. However, the NBA does not allow Roman numerals on uniforms, so he will simply have “Jones” on the back of his jersey. … Harden is a shooting guard and apparently wants Jones to be a shooting forward. “Every time I'm on James' team, as soon as I catch it he says, ‘Shoot it,' “ Jones said. “Confidence from my team gives me confidence.”

QUOTABLE

“Our transition offense has improved every year. Four or five years ago, you didn't really know what you were going to get. You just knew we had a bunch of athletes running the floor and a lot of times it didn't look good and it ended up in a turnover, but now you know what you're going to get. You're going to get a guy that's going to attack the basket, you're going to get a wide-open 3 or you're going to get a pick-and-roll.” – Brooks


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