Unlike Russell Westbrook’s recent return to the Thunder lineup, there hasn’t been much of a readjustment period with Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins back.
Much of that has to do with the position and responsibility of the three players.
Westbrook is a high-usage, ball-control point guard who needed to regain his touch and feel for the game.
“Point guard is a hard position (even) when you’re healthy,” Scott Brooks said. “You’re either guarding the ball or have the ball in your hand.”
But Sefolosha and Perkins are defensive aces who sporadically contribute on the offensive end. And while they need some time to regain their game condition, a lot of what they do has to do with smarts and power, things that don’t necessarily leave you during a month-long absence.
“They have that tough defensive mentality,” Brooks said. “They have defensive bodies. Perk, it’s hard to score on him. It’s hard to score on him from the block and hard to score on him at the rim. And Thabo, he gets through screens, he knows the team’s plays, he knows the players he is guarding very well.”
KD DRAWS UP PLAY, SAYS HE WANTS TO COACH SOME DAY
During a timeout with less than 90 seconds left on Friday night — a 116-94 Thunder blowout win over the Pelicans that was all but decided an hour earlier — Kevin Durant snatched the white board and drew up an offensive play.
And out of the timeout, the Thunder’s mop-up crew executed it to perfection.
Durant’s design started with a little misdirection up top, before Jeremy Lamb sprinted from the right baseline to the left corner, slipping through a powerful double-screen set by Steven Adams and Hasheem Thabeet.
It got Lamb a wide-open three, which he knocked down, enticing Durant to jump off the bench in celebration of his successful coaching move.
After the game, Scott Brooks was asked about Durant’s design.
“That was a great play, but he forgot to add one other player on the board,” Brooks joked. “He only had four on the board…He’s getting better. Last year he had only three.”
When told of Brooks’ critique, Durant said: “Nah, that’s (expletive),” before adding: “That was all me right there. I’m trying to work on my future.”
Then, Durant revealed, he’s already starting to think about a possible coaching career when his playing days are over.
“I hope so,” Durant said. “We’ll see. I always hear the guys that can play a little bit aren’t smart enough to be coaches, but I’m learning. I’m learning from a lot of different guys. Trying to put myself in different shoes. We’ll see. I like to see guys get better, I enjoy watching the progress of the team.”
Westbrook on if he feels any relief that this upcoming back-to-back is the last of the season: “Definitely. For sure. There’s none in the playoffs, so I feel good.”
STAT OF THE DAY
The Thunder is 19-3 this season when its original starting lineup is together.