Defense and a lot of promise in second preseason game
This was a great Friday night if you are a Thunder fan after a 111-81 win over Fenerbache, a Turkish team that came to the Chesapeake Energy Arena to play OKC for their first home appearance this year, also the former team of Thunder center Enes Kanter.
This game started out pretty competitive and there were a many instances where this Thunder squad looked exactly like teams in the past, a team that can score easily but can't stop anyone. The only player that seemed to not miss a beat defensively, or maybe even got better is who else? Andre Roberson, who had four steals and one forced turnover by halftime. Due to limited minutes in the second half he couldn't increase that statistic. It's not like the Fenerbache ever seemed to have a chance, but there were multiple occasions where Oklahoma City would miss a back door cut, or there was just poor defense in the interior. Without fans and media knowing what was said at halftime, Oklahoma City came out on fire hitting pretty much everything that the shot, dominating Fenerbache 29-17 in the third quarter (note this is in the third quarter which has been their worst quarter in previous history).
Clearly after scoring 111 points in this game and 122 against Minnesota its safe to say that the offense is going to be good again. Something noticed, probably the greatest improvement offensively was Dion Waiters, scoring 19 points off 6-of-9 shooting and a perfect 3-of-3 from the 3-point line. This is such a great sign coming from a player that can either make or break a game seemingly single-handedly. The key to success for Waiters is the exact way that he played Friday night. Shooting the ball 10 to 15 times a game and hitting just half of those shots would have him consistently in double figures, presuming that he will get to the line at least a couple times a game. He's developed a more aggressive game, the step backs he would take last year turned into drives to the lane where he either decided to take it himself or dish it to someone else. This is something that resembles players like James Harden or even teammate Russell Westbrook. Ball movement has also been a great improvement from previous years, and Billy Donovan plays a huge role in that. He doesn't like isolation ball when KD, Russ or the occasional Waiters clears everyone out and gets into a one on one match with the other teams best defender. Rapid ball movement seems to always work, especially when you have a team as fast as Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant was another player that was impressive, in only his second game back from missing a huge chunk of last season Durant posted 13 points off 6-of-10 shooting and five assists. Also, there was a monsterous dunk later in the game by KD that you'll probably see in the highlights. One dunk by a 6-foot-9 NBA superstar has never been so celebrated, but knowing the season he had last year there's understanding. It is great to see him playing like everyones gotten used to him playing. Russell also played his game, heating up a little later in the game after a slow start, finishing with 16 points, 5 assists and 3 steals.
Billy Donovan actually seemed quite satisfied following the game, of course there were things he thinks the team can and will improve on but he seemed pretty happy overall with the teams play in just their second real game together. Hear Donovan's opening statement in the postgame press conference below.