Nick GalloParis Lawson

By Nick Gallo | Broadcast Reporter & Digital Editor and Paris Lawson | Digital Content Reporter | mailbag@okcthunder.com

This weekend marks the public’s first opportunity to catch the Thunder live in action and it’ll be part practice, part scrimmage as the team continues preparing for the preseason.

While training at the Thunder Ion, Head Coach Billy Donovan has flip-flopped and mixed and matched teams and players combinations and he indicated that fans should expect the same in the Blue and White Scrimmage, which starts at noon on Sunday. Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams are the most prominent veterans while the rest of the team is a nice mix of versatile youngsters and solid role players. All of them provide different value to the game and can contribute in their own way.

“We are trying to play different guys together,” said Donovan. “(We’re) trying to get some chemistry and connection there. Just (to) try and look at a lot of different combinations of players working together.

“I’d imagine on Sunday we will do quite a bit of that,” Donovan continued. “It will be a process for us to continue to grow that chemistry.”

View this post on Instagram

looking at the weekend like...

A post shared by Oklahoma City Thunder (@okcthunder) on

Player development is a crucial aspect of the Thunder’s ability to sustain success and maximize the value of the group. That’s not only true of stars but youngsters as well. This team has a plethora of 25-or-younger wings that are all competing for minutes. Showing that they can be relied upon on both ends of the floor is vital to make the rotation, and during this first week of camp they can begin to prove their mettle.

“We’ve got to build up the whole roster,” Donovan noted. “You just don’t want to get into a situation where you’re relying on four or five guys every single night, because they’re going to eventually wear out. They need some help and contributions from somebody too. So we’re committed to trying to help all of these guys develop.”

“We’re not going to play 11 or 12 guys, so one of them could be out of the rotation. Doesn’t mean it’s forever,” Donovan added. “Maybe there’s a different game where it presents a different opportunity for one of those guys.”

Large portions of Thunder practices so far have been conducted behind closed doors, but through interviews our okcthunder.com reporters Nick Gallo and Paris Lawson have gleaned some insight of what fans may see on Sunday.

Paris LawsonParis Says: This Thunder roster is full of versatile players, positionless-type players who have the ability to impact the game on multiple levels on both sides of the floor. With their hard work put in during the off season, Hamidou Diallo, Terrance Ferguson, Darius Bazley, Deonte Burton, and Abdel Nader all have the chance to be utilized in various situations and garner playing time by showcasing the ways in which they’ve worked on their game. Sunday’s scrimmage poses as an opportunity for players like these to show their expanded game and the ways they can make a difference on the floor. Different player combinations will be tested as well as multiple offensive and defensive tactics and as a result, an opportunity arises for players to show how they can be effective in various scenarios and certain situations.

Nick GalloNick Says: Specific skill sets shining through. High pick and roll with Paul and Adams will likely be a fixture of Thunder offensive sets, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schröder will also be handling the ball a significant portion of time. Gallinari and Mike Muscala will be floor stretchers, as will swingman Terrance Ferguson. Abdel Nader, Deonte Burton and Hamidou Diallo have both taken steps forward this summer, bringing energy to both ends of the floor and in transition. Nerlens Noel and Justin Patton provide rim protection and length in the middle. Rookie Darius Bazley is a bit of a wildcard, a skilled forward who has a nice feel for the game. It’s also possible that Andre Roberson will play some public minutes for the first time since January of 2018.

As a reminder, the Blue and White Scrimmage begins at Noon C.T. and will be streamed live on @okcthunder Facebook and Twitter platforms in addition to the Thunder Mobile App and okcthunder.com.

“Practice has been competitive. After you practice with against each other so much, you can’t wait to go against someone else,” said Paul. “Sunday will be great.”

Back to okcthunder.com

  • Facebook
  • Twitter