First Practice In The Books

By Randy Renner

One down and oh 170 or so more practices to go before the NBA Finals roll around at the end of next spring. Whether the Thunder are still practicing then or already out on vacation will determine just how good a season it's been, no title talk today though, strictly work and lots of it.

"I thought we had a great day," head coach Scott Brooks said after his team's almost two-and-a-half hour practice. "I thought the guys were really engaged with one another and really competed against each other and I thought all the guys came in in great shape and great spirits."

Wiley veteran Nick Collison agreed with his coach's assessment but also added this caveat, "you always have great energy on the first day, every team in the league's gonna have a great practice today. I mean we're happy with it but the key is to keep it going through the year."

Collison is one of a small handful of players who are coming off summer surgeries. Collison had a knee "scoped" and so did Perry Jones. Grant Jerrett had foot surgery and is still very limited and Kendrick Perkins is out for now with a strained quad.

Jones was not hindered at all in practice today and neither was Collison.

"I feel great, I did have that scope done in June so there's always an adjustment to that, some days you feel better than others but I've felt great the last four weeks."

Point guard Russell Westbrook noticed the young guys right away and how quickly they've picked up things.

"They know a lot already, man," he said. "It's easy to move on from drill to drill when guys already know what they're supposed to do, so the summer workouts and summer league have helped them a lot."

Collison noticed too.

"We can't (formally) practice but we have enough veteran guys when we play pickup games that the younger guys can at least have an idea of some of the terminology we use when we start."

Collison also has seen improvement in OKC's young veterans.

"Perry, Jeremy, Andre and Steve, you can just tell their comfort level is there. They can just jump right in and be aggressive, they know what they're doing. They're not hesitating thinking so much and I think that's natural."

Collison also has a shadow this season, the guy who could eventually end up taking some of his minutes, Mitch McGary.

"We get along well," Collison said, "I just appreciate his attitude. He doesn't think he knows everything and he's willing to learn, plus he's got a good base knowledge of how to play."

And there are few better on the Thunder roster to learn from than Collison who may very well be a coach some day.

"I think about it's something I think I could be good at some day but it's a ways down the road, I wanna focus on being a player first."

And no one around here is anxious to send Collison to the suit tailor instead of the uniform maker just yet.

Randy RennerComment