Russell Westbrook realized something on Thursday afternoon, minutes after the Thunder completed its latest practice at U.S. Cellular Training Camp.
“I don’t know if we had one shot clock violation the whole preseason,” Westbrook pondered aloud.
Westbrook was right, about the Thunder’s preseason games against NBA competition at least. Against the Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets, Westbrook and company never registered a shot clock violation and showed that even with so many new pieces on the roster, the Thunder’s offensive system can generate high quality shots.
“The important thing is that we’re getting good shots and we’re not playing extra late into the shot clock,” Westbrook said.
Camp Talk: Russell Westbrook - 10/20
Some of what Head Coach Billy Donovan has installed is unique and different – concepts that include players being interchangeable parts of the offensive scheme. Other aspects are more straightforward – concepts and sets that the Thunder can utilize to get into a flow. Now that the team has six preseason games and nearly a month worth of data to look at, Donovan and his crew can assess the best lineups, pairings and rotations to put on the floor once the regular season begins.
“(We’re) really trying to recognize the floor and then just play,” Donovan said. “We’re just trying to be able to not worry about who is in what spot but worry more about getting down the floor to get into offensive quickly. Our pace of play has been picked up. Hopefully we can sustain that once we start the regular season.”
Coach Donovan on Evaluating the Team
Here are some other news and notes from Thunder training camp practice:
- Anthony Morrow was back with the Thunder today at practice after missing the past two games due to the birth of his twins, Amiri Jace Morrow and Malachi Josiah Morrow. Morrow already has children so he knows the challenging rhythm of being a father. He even managed to catch both of the preseason games that he missed by watching okcthunder.com’s livestreams on his phone.
- Donovan reported that shooting guard Alex Abrines has been cleared to do a little bit of light shooting and a little bit of movement, but did not participate in the Thunder’s practice today. The team will try to do a little bit more with him tomorrow to see where he is after that hip contusion he suffered against Minnesota.
- Yet another wing player was a topic of conversation today at practice – Andre Roberson. The fourth-year shooting guard has made strides over the past few years as a shooter, defender and playmaker. This season he looks to continue to improve his shooting from the corners, in transition and as a catch-and-go player within the offense. Much of Roberson’s development has come with the oversight of assistant coach Darko Rajakovic, who also mentored Roberson when he was the coach of the Oklahoma City Blue.
- Westbrook also had some kind words for Roberson today, when asked about pushing tempo and utilizing his teammate as another playmaker in open space.
- In addition to Rajakovic, fellow assistant coach Mark Bryant was mentioned on Thursday. Westbrook said that he utilizes Bryant’s knowledge of post players and how to play on the block. Even though he doesn’t come over and work with the rest of the big men, Westbrook will lean on Bryant from time to time for advice for his post-up game.
• “With twins and everything it’s just double,” Morrow said with a knowing grin. “It’s good. My girl is good and the babies are doing really well. I’m just looking forward to not getting a lot of sleep for a while. Thank God my mom and dad came, and some friends of the family came out. We have a lot of good support.”
Anthony Morrow on Return
• “(Rajakovic) has created an enormous amount of consistency for Andre, where has things that he can draw back upon that he knows what he has to do and how he should shoot the basketball, and repetitively doing that same thing each and every time,” Donovan said.
• “Our offense allows everyone to play in pick and roll, make passes and get out in transition,” Westbrook said. “I encourage it to try to kick it ahead to (Roberson) to try to find ways for him to be aggressive. He’s a good transition player. He can make good passes and knows how to play the game.”
Westbrook Working in the Post
• “I love MB. He’s a really quiet guy, but when he talks you need to pay attention,” Westbrook said, raising his eyebrows. “He knows the game very well and he’s been very huge not just for our bigs but for our whole team and organization.”