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News » Thunder in quiet mode this summer


Thunder in quiet mode this summer


Thunder in quiet mode this summer
More than four months have passed since the Thunder's season finale, and Oklahoma City has made one trade and signed just one free agent to aid its efforts of building on last year's 23-win campaign.

Three rookies have been added through the draft, and the only other roster improvements have been of the addition by subtraction variety. Talk about a long and lackluster offseason.

And yet OKC thinks things couldn't be going any better.

Big-name free-agent signings and blockbuster trades annually get fans charged for the season during these dog days. Help facilitate a faster turnabout, too. But the Thunder has held firm in its slow-and-steady approach.

And although it's been painfully peaceful around these parts, the Thunder is making strides to come back a better bunch through a behind-the-scenes process playing out in every corner of the country. It's called player development.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks assembled an off-season plan for each of his players back on April 16, the day after the season finale. Some instructions were player-specific. Some contained general developmental concepts.

For the better part of the past four months, Brooks and his assistants have traveled far and wide to meet with returning players for workouts and one-on-one attention geared toward maximum improvement.

"We've basically touched every player somewhere, either in their hometowns or they came back here or we met them in summer league," Brooks said. "Our players are committed to getting better, and I think they've executed it.

"That's a big part of our summer. Summertime is the time to really develop on your individual skills in your game. And when they come together in fall camp, my job is to take all that individual improvement and wrap it all together and make a better team."

We're now inside one month until the start of training camp, when Brooks must take the torch and blend the talent. For now, he's happy with the progress he's witnessed from his players, both firsthand and through the reports of his staff.

Nick Collison, Kyle Weaver, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, D.J. White and Shaun Livingston are some of the returning players who have spent time working out in Oklahoma City this summer. The coaching staff has also worked with its players in California, Texas and Washington D.C.

Most all of the players have been working out two to three times a day for weeks. Collison, who was in town last week, told Brooks he recently began playing games of 5-on-5, the earliest in his career he's hit the hardwood in the summer.

Brooks said Green has gotten stronger, quicker and has improved his ball-handling. Durant and Westbrook, Brooks said, have gotten stronger. Westbrook and Weaver are learning to make better decisions as young playmakers, and Weaver is displaying a quicker release on his jump shot.

Thabo Sefolosha and Nenad Krstic have been in their homelands overseas this summer, but both are gearing up for participation in the European Championships. It should provide a high level of competition that both can use to further their development.

"We've got a long list of players that are improving this summer," Brooks said. "We're never worried about our guys. They all have that desire and burning determination to get better. We're proud of them. They're committed to getting better. And they've worked hard."

PROGRESS REPORT

Brooks on player development

Thunder coach Scott Brooks offers insight into some of his players' development.

→On Shaun Livingston: "I'm proud of the way Shaun Livingston has come back from his injury. He had a lot of tough times, and he's a confident young man that doesn't want to show the insecurities that he has probably had ... And I think Shaun has demonstrated this summer that he can play in back-to-back games and play at a high level. And this last month and a half, he's really stepped it up even more."

→On Kevin Durant: "We wanted Kevin to come back a stronger player. And he's been committed to his body all summer."

→On Jeff Green: "Jeff is one of our most consistent players, and I see the improvement he has made every year. And that's the sign of a great pro. I expect nothing different this year. He's worked on his body. He has a great body already, but he's gotten stronger, he's getting quicker, his ball-handling has gotten better and his shooting is going to continue to get better."

→On Russell Westbrook: "We wanted Russell to continue to get stronger, and we feel he's done that ... From a Basketball standpoint, I wanted Russell to work on everything - dribbling, passing, shooting, defending. And I think Russell has been committed to doing that this summer."


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 3, 2009

 

 
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