By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Make no mistake, the Thunder have plenty of things to work on with the regular season now just a handful of days away, but the guy who wears the “0” on his back and is the undisputed number one player on the team thinks “we’re in a good place” heading toward the opener.
“I thought we improved the last two games on both sides of the ball,” superstar point guard Russell Westbrook told reporters after the team’s Thursday practice.
He especially likes “our decision making” on the offensive end “and getting good shots, the importance of getting good shots and not playing extra late into the shot clock,” Westbrook said. “I don’t think we had one shot clock violation in the whole preseason and I think that shows how our offense is working.”
Pace of play has been a point of emphasis this training camp and Westbrook likes what he’s seen so far.
“Just being able to get up the floor and space out, everybody getting to their spots quicker and being able to find guys out in transition, pushing the pace and getting stops. Getting stops creates a fast pace for us.”
And when there’s a stop or a turnover and the floor starts to “tilt” the Thunder want to run and it doesn’t matter so much what position anyone is playing, the goal is to take off and put as much pressure on the other team as possible.
“Most guys spots are interchangeable,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “The 4 and 5 men (power forward and center) are somewhat interchangeable and we’re trying to just not worry about who’s in what spot but more worry about get down the floor and get into the offense quickly.”
And Donovan believes that’s happened for the most part in the preseason games so now “hopefully we can sustain that once we start the regular season.”
These last few days of camp Donovan is using video tape of the games to show how much improvement players have made in certain areas and “then really showing some areas that really stood out of areas of improvement that we need to make really try to focus on those things along with maintaining and building habits on those things we’ve done well.”
The Thunder will finish out the week working basically on themselves and then next week begin to shift some of the focus toward opponents.
The team opens the regular season Wednesday night in Philadelphia and then their home opener is a week from Friday night against the Phoenix Suns.