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Oklahoma City Thunder: Scott Brooks will handle stars with care in preseason

Despite their youth, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka need to conserve energy before everything counts in the standings.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: October 7, 2012
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photo - U.S. / UNITED STATES / TEAM USA: United States' forward Kevin Durant jumps for the ball during a men's semifinal basketball game against Argentina at the 2012 Summer Olympics on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Mark Ralston, Pool) ORG XMIT: OLY506
U.S. / UNITED STATES / TEAM USA: United States' forward Kevin Durant jumps for the ball during a men's semifinal basketball game against Argentina at the 2012 Summer Olympics on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Mark Ralston, Pool) ORG XMIT: OLY506

“I definitely protect them from themselves,” Brooks said. “We've cut some time off our practices, not a lot but just enough. And there's plenty of reps to go around that everybody's getting a fair look at what they can do and what they can do to help our team get better.”

The NBA allows teams to hold six two-a-day sessions over the first 13 days of training camp. Brooks, however, has opted for only one session per day and doesn't sound interested in adding a second practice. The lone practice has been longer at times than normal, but Brooks thinks getting everything done in one session has helped players have more rest time.

With 19 players in camp, the four Olympians also have had more opportunities to sub out of drills and scrimmages to save their bodies.

“They're kind of limiting our repetitions,” Harden said. “We're still getting it in, but not as much as we would in the previous years.”

Brooks said he will sit Durant, Harden, Westbrook and Ibaka for at least one game this preseason but hasn't decided which one it will be — or if it'll be the same contest for all four. It'll be more about providing a chance for other players, Brooks said, than anything designed to protect his stars.

“You always want to give guys a fair chance to not only make the team but also earn the minutes,” Brooks said. “So I can see them sitting out a game.”

Every little bit will help.