Young Players to Get Valuable Minutes Tonight

PHOENIX – Experience is the best teacher, according to Kevin Durant, and tonight for many of his young teammates, that adage will be prescient.

As the Thunder hits the home stretch of its preseason slate tonight against the Suns, Head Coach Scott Brooks wants the team to focus on limiting turnovers and rebounding strongly on both ends of the floor. Perhaps most importantly, however, it will be an excellent chance for young players like Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones, Andre Roberson and Steven Adams to get time on the floor and to be put in different positions. At this morning’s shoot around, Brooks explained that there will be a chance for extended minutes in a variety of roles for the young talent on this Thunder roster tonight in Phoenix.

“We’re just seeing how they play with each other and how they mesh and how their talents can help each other out,” Brooks said. “I think it’s important that we figure that out early but once we think we’ve figured it out, it’s not like it’s etched in stone. We can always chance out and mix things up.”

A player who was once in a very similar position like Durant can understand the value behind mixing and matching lineups, rotations and player groupings on the floor in a preseason setting. In terms of development, those on-court moments are essential to both work through mistakes but also learn new facets of the game in real time. In addition, games against teams like the Suns tonight and the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night will provide a chance to get a first-hand look at other NBA players and what to expect in terms of competition moving forward.

“It’s very important, also just knowing personnel, knowing who we’re going to be playing against, what they do and their tendencies,” Durant said. “Just knowing, down the line what they do and how you can help the team by maybe slowing some of those guys down.”

With young, intriguing players like Eric Bledsoe, Archie Goodwin and Miles Plumlee in the fold, the Suns have a number of pieces that the Thunder will have to account for tonight. Most of all, however, this second-to-last preseason tilt will be a way for Brooks and his coaching staff to evaluate just how much the team and individual players have gleaned from practices throughout training camp. The Thunder has been working hard on the practice floor, but there is a distinct advantage to being able to translate those lessons into full-speed game action.

“We want to experiment to see if things have carried over from the practice floor to the game,” Brooks explained. “We want to make sure the minutes are used wisely. We still have an opportunity to play two games and experiment with those combinations. Tonight’s game is going to be an interesting game on a lot of fronts.”