"Billy Ball" Looks Good So Far
By Randy Renner
Last night after the Thunder clobbered Minnesota 122-99 head coach Billy Donovan thought things went fairly well. Today after studying the film he's still pleased his team has been able to pick up the new system so well and for the most part perform at a high level, but...
"Going back and lookin at the film we had some possessions, I don't wanna say they were wasted possessions but we got a little bit bogged down, the floor didn't move as well as it needed to and that's to be expected," he said.
Right now, after slightly more than a week of practices, the foundation and the framework of the new system has been installed but there are still a lot of areas that need finishing touches.
"As hard as those guys have worked getting an opportunity to see themselves play against someone else was a good thing."
One thing that really stands out to Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook is how well things tend to flow on offense.
"Moving the ball, just movement of the basketball. I thought we did a really good job of moving the ball and gettin' open shots," Westbrook said.
They hit most of those open looks shooting 55.6 percent overall and right at 50 percent from beyond the 3-point line.
"I think guys passed up good shots for great shots," Westbrook pointed out. "We have players that are willing to do that and be unselfish, especially for the whole season it can create a lot of shots. Good shots and great shots."
"Yeah I think that happened," Donovan agreed. "To Russell's point I think they were really passing the basketball , being unselfish, moving the ball and you know I think 34 assists are a pretty high number."
Higher than in any game last season but Donovan says he doesn't have a particular number in mind he'd like to average.
"Anytime you get a high number of assists it means the ball is going in the basket and there were plays last night where we didn't did credited with an assist because we just missed the shot where there was some really, really nice passes made we just didn't finish the play."
That many assists and the fact that seven players got into double figures underlines even more how much the ball was being shared. Too many times last season Westbrook and his superstar teammate Kevin Durant were forced into situations where they were given the ball and made something happen on their own.
Donovan would prefer not having to always rely to his two superstars to make plays and win games.
"It was great to see them play the way they did along with the rest of the guys. We got a long way to go and we got a lot of things we have to work on but I thought those guys did a really nice job in the first pre-season game."
Defense Still Needs Work
There were times Wednesday night when the Thunder played lockdown defense but that seemed to erode as the lead swelled.
"We just gotta have a killer instinct," Westbrook said. "When we're up a certain amount of points and give leads back, it's not okay to do that. We've got to be strong-willed mentally especially on the road things like that can hurt us and change the game so we just gotta be mindful of that."
Adams Could Return Friday
Center Steven Adams did not play Wednesday night and his been limited in practice due to a sore back but he may be able to return to action against Fenerbahce Ulker.
"I'm hopeful," Donovan said after Thursday's practice. "Obviously the medical staff's gotta make that determination but I think he felt pretty good. He went through everything today and he went through shootaround (Wednesday) so the big thing is just how he feels (Friday)."