ORLANDO – The Oklahoma City Thunder participated in its first non-contact practice since arriving in Orlando on Wednesday, July 8. After two days of what Billy Donovan described as physical, contact basketball, the team was able to have a day involving fundamental training.
And yes, Andre Roberson participated.
For those keeping tabs at home, that’s three full days of participation for Roberson, and Billy Donovan notes how important it is to have the veteran leadership on the court.
“It’s great having Andre out there,” Donovan said. “I have a lot of familiarity with him. He’s a veteran who knows about competition.”
One major takeaway for a day of non-contact practice for the Thunder is the evolution and growth of the younger players, both mentally and physically.
Darius Bazley continues to utilize his length and athleticism as the team continues to find their coordination again, while Lu Dort, fresh off his new NBA contract, asserts himself as a dominant force on the court and a reliable contributor to the team’s coalition.
“You can tell Terrance [Ferguson], Bazley and Hami [Diallo] look stronger,” Donovan said. “Even Dort looks stronger, if you can believe that.”
As a younger team in the NBA, the Thunder have fresh legs and high energy players eager to play the game again. Injuries have posed threats for many teams throughout the season before it was suspended, but with Andre participating, Bazley making significant improvements from a right knee bone bruise, and zero positive tests for COVID-19, the Thunder are in it for the long haul.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who turned 22 years old today, notes the excitement circulating the team as the countdown to August is on.
“Personally, it’s a little more exciting,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “From where we ended with the season, us getting to go back and play again is a miracle.”
Leadership has been a key factor in getting the team back into the swing of everything, and Gilgeous-Alexander speaks highly of Chris Paul saying his leadership extends far beyond just playing basketball.
“With Chris, it’s more so things off the court,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “He’s taught me so much about eating, taking care of my body, lifting, and helping the longevity of my game.”
In a basketball aspect, Billy Donovan comments on Dennis Schröder’s leadership noting his sense of competitiveness and how vital it is for the Thunder’s synergy.
“Dennis is more than capable of being a starting point guard in the league,” Donovan said. “His willingness to come off the bench has been great. He always raises a competitive spirit among our team.”
The Thunder’s practice schedule will be released tomorrow morning as the countdown to August 1 continues.