When the Thunder franchise began in 2008, extra time was needed for coach Scott Brooks and his staff to instruct players on everything from simple drills to the complexities of the shell defense.
With the core of the team and staff having been together for several seasons now, less time is wasted on repetitive instruction. As a result, the Thunder tentatively has not scheduled any two-a-day workouts during the preseason.
On Tuesday, the Thunder's first practice of the season lasted two hours, 45 minutes — roughly twice as long as a routine practice during the season.
“It was a little long, but it was great,” Brooks said. “Partly because we know what we do, and if we can get it all done in 2½ hours or two hours, 15 minutes, I think that's good enough.”
Brooks said teams are allowed six two-a-day practices in the first 13 days of camp. “We always have the option to come back and revisit that,” Brooks said of doubling daily workouts.
“It's an advantage for us to be able to come in and not have to go over every single thing in every drill,” said veteran forward Nick Collison, who is starting his 10th season with the franchise. “Early in my career, we had a lot of changeover. Seemed like we had a new coach every year, new players. So each time you have to start so much slower. Now, we jump right in.”
Another reason for less practice time is conditioning has become a year-round commitment from players.
“Today, conditioning wasn't a factor,” Brooks said. “Execution for the first day I thought was really good. A lot to do with it is we've been together for a while now. They came back in great shape. That always has been the case here.”
There are 19 players on OKC's training camp roster, which includes seven newcomers in Perry Jones, Hasheem Thabeet, Daniel Orton, Hollis Thompson, DeAndre Liggins, Walker Russell and Andy Rautins.
“We're going to go at a pace that at times is going to be a little uncomfortable for them,” Brooks said of the new arrivals. “They're going to have to pick it up quick because we move on to the next thing. The new guys did a good job. They're a very competitive group.”
Brooks said Kendrick Perkins (left wrist) “probably did half the practice, but all of the non-contact (drills),” and guard Thabo Sefolosha (thigh bruise) “probably did half of the practice, with contact.”
Reserve guard Eric Maynor (right knee surgery) is wearing a knee brace, but participated in the entire practice at full speed.
“We wouldn't put him out there if he wasn't ready to go,” Brooks said. “He's put a lot of time in, getting his body right to open up camp on the first day. I give him a lot of credit and our staff a lot of credit that he played well coming back from the knee injury.
“A couple of parts of practice it was just like the old Eric was going out there, competing and really facilitating the team. He was good.”
WESTBROOK WITH NIKE?
Rumors of Russell Westbrook switching shoe brands this offseason appear to be false. Many reports claimed last month the Thunder's two-time All-Star had left Nike and signed with adidas.
Adidas Philippines uploaded a picture via Instagram of Westbrook wearing their brand, which was accompanied with the caption “Boom!” and the hashtag #russellwestbrook. Adidas USA never confirmed the validity of the picture, and the Instagram link has since been deleted.
Westbrook wore the Nike Air Jordan I model at Thunder media day Monday. No way would Westbrook wear Nike on the biggest photo op day of the season had he already signed a new deal with adidas. Nike officials have yet to confirm Westbrook as a client, however.
Westbrook became a sneaker free agent this summer after spending his first four seasons as a prominent figure in Nike's Hyperfuse line. Westbrook wore adidas during his two seasons at UCLA.
Perkins on re-signing James Harden: “Obviously, everybody would love to just say, ‘Oh, yeah, we've got our team. James signed,' but it's not that easy. In a perfect world, it would be, but they still have business that they have to take care of. At the end of the day, we still love James and we're going to embrace him and he's still part of our team.”