Thunder Used Training Camp to Prepare for Preseason Opener

Finally, after long, physical practices, intense mental gymnastics and conditioning drills, the Thunder can battle against players besides their own teammates.

Tuesday’s practice session at the INTEGRIS Health Thunder Development Center was not quite as lengthy as those that preceded it over the past nine days of training camp, but it was effective nonetheless. For Head Coach Scott Brooks, the ability to wrap up its productive week-and-a-half of training camp with an energetic and efficient practice was the perfect culmination of his team’s work since Media Day on Oct. 1st.

“It was high quality,” Brooks said. “It wasn’t long, we weren’t looking for a long practice, we just wanted some good energy and great execution. The guys gave us that for 60 minutes. I was very pleased.”

The word that marked the past nine days for the Thunder was “competitive”. Whether it was full on scrimmages that consisted of three teams featuring a mix of starters, reserves and new players or one-on-one drills after practice, Thunder players got after one another. Veteran guard Daequan Cook was proud of his team’s effort over the past few days, pushing one another to improve.

“It went very well,” Cook said. “It was very intense, a lot of energy, we were all getting after it. We’re seeing a lot of progression, a lot of maturity on the floor and that’s one of the biggest steps for us right now.”

With a date with the Houston Rockets at State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, TX on the docket for Wednesday night at 7 p.m. CDT, the Thunder looks to capitalize on some of the items its improved upon over the last week-and-a-half. Kevin Durant and Brooks discussed trying to improve half-court execution, passing and other elements of the offense, all of which were tackled to some degree since October began. However, at the top of the list, as always for the Thunder, has been paying extra attention to the defensive side of the floor.

On Wednesday night, Brooks wants to see his team exemplify the ideals put forth by the coaching staff during training camp.

“Just carryover from what we’ve done the last week,” Brooks said. “I thought we had a great nine days. I think we want to see what we have, what we’ve picked up, what the new guys picked up, how well they’re playing with their instincts… (On defense is) where it always has to start for us, defensive execution, defensive intensity, defensive toughness. Those are things we will definitely monitor tomorrow night.”

Immediately after its game in Hidalgo, the Thunder will travel to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Jazz on Friday, then return to Oklahoma City to square off against the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday, Oct. 16th at Chesapeake Energy Arena. A game in Tulsa against the Phoenix Suns on Friday, Oct. 19th is on the Thunder’s schedule before it hosts the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, Oct. 21st. To finish off the preseason schedule, the Thunder travels to Chicago to face the Bulls on Tuesday Oct, 23rd, then hosts the Dallas Mavericks in Wichita, KS on Wednesday, Oct. 24th.

Throughout its preseason slate, the Thunder hopes to develop as a team, play cohesive basketball and continue to improve its communication on both ends of the floor. While 82 regular season games await the team once November rolls around, Durant and his teammates are taking the preseason tilts extremely seriously. Before the team departed for Hidalgo on Tuesday afternoon, Durant said the Thunder’s goals for the preseason are to get better every day, execute on both ends of the floor, communicate and pass better.

“We take it as every game is a real game,” Durant said. “Practices, shootarounds, everything is a real game to us and we’ll approach it that way. It’s the only way to get better. It’s going to be fun going against somebody else. Houston is a really good team. Just like everybody in the first week of training camp, we had a good week and are ready to play as well. So it’s going to be fun.”