OKC Thunder: Day 3 of practice features talk of youth improvement

Day three of practice for the OKC Thunder featured non-contact and discussion on how the youngsters have improved.

Three days of practice for the OKC Thunder are in the books and everyone has participated in each session. That includes the man of the moment – – Andre Roberson. The guard-forward seems intent on making his first return to the court in over two and half years. That, and defying our unwillingness to buy-in fully after the ‘Boy who cried wolf’ bit us repeatedly in the last two preseason sessions.

The fact the team didn’t practice with contact shouldn’t have anyone worried. After being off the court since March 11th it’s wise to slowly bring the players back to full speed. The other interesting note is head coach Billy Donovan’s seeming willingness to keep roster positions open.

Reviewing some of the other team notes they are also stating some players could miss sessions altogether (particularly the vets). And that applied on Sunday to three teams who canceled their practice sessions entirely. Those teams included the LA Clippers, Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns. Proving the point that bringing back the players slowly applies to players of all ages (the Suns are a young squad).

OKC Thunder youth’s growth critical to restart

Speaking of youth the OKC Thunder head coach Billy Donovan was excited about the advances his younger players made during the hiatus.

Specifically, Donovan noted each of Terrance Ferguson, Darius Bazley, and Hamidou Diallo all took steps during the hiatus.

Luguentz Dort who recently turned 21, began his year already possessing an NBA ready body has gotten stronger too which the coach was impressed by.

Another player Donovan was keen to praise was Dennis Schroder noting how he’s accepted his role as the sixth man. The head coach stated Schroder could be starting and said his leadership and competitiveness make a big difference. The comment felt like a Manu Ginobili comparison which is impressive company for the point guard to be aligned with.

It’s also very apropos given how the two guards were and are featured on their clubs. Ginobili didn’t start but was always on the floor to close games just as Schroder is.

The fact the youngsters have displayed growth in their games is key for this unusual return of the season. While teams need to ramp up their efforts for the playoffs they also need to be cautious in the minute distribution since soft tissue injuries are a concern.

Through 64 games Donovan hasn’t been keen to utilize his entire bench on a consistent basis. That strategy is likely to be tweaked for the restart so the fact each of the youngsters has improved will be vital to the OKC Thunder holding their seeding and performing well in the postseason.

As for the next practice for the team it should be released this morning (Monday, July 13th).

Next: Regrading Russell Westbrook trade to Rockets – one year later
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