It comes as no surprise, but after four days of training camp James Harden continues to practice with the second team despite starter Thabo Sefolosha nursing a leg injury.
Harden, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, is expected to remain in his role this season once the Thunder returns to full strength. Harden, however, took his assignment in stride when told he just can't seem to crack the first unit.
“Can't,” Harden said, laughing. “Can't do it. Them my guys. Me and Nick Collison, that's my guy.”
Harden then said players have just filled in for starters Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins (wrist) and the second unit has remained largely intact.
A “CHIPPY” PRACTICE
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Friday's practice was the most intense of the week.
“There's no question that today was probably our most chippy — if that's even the way to say it,” Brooks said. “But we scrimmaged a lot. Guys really got after it. Today was really, out of the four (practice) we've had, mainly all scrimmaging.”
Asked which players were the biggest “chips,” Brooks said Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
“Kevin and Russell, they showed great leadership,” Brooks said. “They wanted to win and they didn't win early on. But I thought they did a good job of coming back and competing and fighting through it.”
Said Harden when asked about the intensity: “We love it. That's how we get better. We talk smack to each other. We grab, hold, fight. That's what makes us great; young guys that want to compete and get better every single day.”
NOTHING NEW YET
Brooks and his staff have yet to add new sets and schemes offensively or defensively.
“We're just going over some of the staples that we've had offensively and defensively,” Brooks said. “We haven't put in too many new things. Some new drills, but eventually when we get everything down the way we want it we will add things to our team.”
Following the team's Finals loss, Brooks expressed a desire to develop a zone package this season. The Thunder historically has relied solely on man-to-man defense.
Sefolosha (hamstring) went through a portion of practice Friday. Perkins (wrist) will be limited to non-contact drills through the end of the month. … The Thunder will have a light practice Saturday and have Sunday off before resuming practice Monday … A writer from The New York Times Magazine has been in town this week working on an in-depth feature on the Thunder. The piece is scheduled to publish at the start of the regular season. … Nancy Lieberman will join the Fox Sports studio crew as an analyst this season. Lieberman, who was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996, replaces Stephen Howard.