Q: Any added excitement now that you're playing a game Wednesday night against Houston rather than just practicing?
A: “We take it that every game is a real game. Practices, shootaround, everything's a real game. We approach it that way and it's the only way to get better. It's going to be fun going against somebody else. Just like everybody in the first week of training camp, we had a good week. We're ready to play as well.”
When coach Scott Brooks talks about you guys getting better on defense, what exactly is he talking about?
“Communication. We could have been a lot better just by us talking; rebound the ball better; defensive glass; deflections; just doing the small things, helping guys out. I think our team defense is pretty good. We've just got to keep at it.”
This is your sixth season. What's different about this year compared to your first season?
“We know what it takes to be a good team in this league and I know what I have to do to help this team grow as far as being a leader. I'm excited around this time. The last few years, I've been nervous coming into the first preseason game just wondering how we're going to do, how I'm going to do. But I'm more excited this time, letting it all hang out and just having fun. Go back to having fun and I'll be fine.”
You said you wanted to become a more vocal leader. How has that gone so far?
“It's been going well. We have a lot of different personalities on this team. You've got to talk to the guys a certain way and I've known these guys for three or four years. It's just a matter of me speaking up and telling them what I see. These guys listen, so it's perfect having a great group of players who listen to each other and want to get better.”
What changes for you when you're at the 4 position?
“I just feel like I have a different mismatch problem and I make other teams adjust. Usually when we go small, other teams go small to match up with James (Harden), Russell (Westbrook), myself and Serge (Ibaka). Just causing mismatch problems and spacing the floor. If I get the ball in a wide-open position, I've got to shoot. And if I get an iso(lation) situation, I've got to go to work.”