Thunder sprints during the first week of training camp

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The pace has been lightning fast with the coaches moving quickly from drill to live action, but so far at the Thunder ION no one is falling behind.

On the very first day, the Thunder practiced for two hours and could have continued according to Mark Daigneault, meaning everyone arrived at training camp with their conditioning finely tuned. After that first practice, the Thunder held six more practices this week through two days and will do one more on Sunday before flying to Denver for Monday’s preseason opener against the Nuggets. Every day the Thunder have learned and honed their craft in an effort to get the live game reps they need to continue to grow.

During the first week of camp, here are the most important takeaways:

There were a lot of familiar faces in the Thunder locker room on the first day of training camp. In addition to a core group of returns, every player who entered the training ground for OKC had participated in Thunder training or Thunder Summer League training prior to the start of training camp. This shared knowledge of key Thunder concepts, vocabulary and identity within the group made for a smooth start to the pre-season.

Continuity has also led to one of the most player-focused practices Daigneault has experienced at the helm of OKC. Players took initiative and stepped into leadership roles thanks to the experiences they gained in previous seasons.

“The continuity is huge because we’re not skipping any steps,” Daigneault said. “We’re doing the same things that we’ve always done, but the proficiency that players take for those things is higher because they’ve done them before and not only have they done them before, but they understand the connection to the game and so they understand the purpose of it.There is also a purpose to what they are doing and that only makes it more powerful for beginning players who are new.

For much of the 2021-22 season, the Thunder’s defensive rating hovered in the top 10 in the entire league, despite the team being the youngest in NBA history. This year, the Thunder will have the second youngest team ever, but know that to be a strong defensive team again this year, they will have to invest early in the season and not expect this precision materializes by itself. .

“That’s the end we wanted to hang our hats on,” guard Josh Giddey said. “As a younger, less experienced team, there will be nights where you will be physically outmatched and have less experience, but the only thing you can control is how hard you play and the effort you put in. When we are at our best defensively, we can cause problems for many teams and that can lead to quick break points and easy transitions.

That’s why Lu Dort helped set the tone by taking over the whole pitch in defense, and many of his teammates followed suit. From veterans like Kenrich Williams, second-year players like Jeremiah Robinson-Earl to rookies like Jalen Williams and Jaylin Williams, defense has been an essential part of the Thunder’s DNA even before players came to Oklahoma City, and this spirit is refined inside the Thunder ION.

On Thursday, Thunder rookie Chet Holmgren spoke to the media for the first time since suffering a Lisfranc injury to his right foot in the offseason. The determined and competitive Holmgren discussed his plans for rehab this season, how he’ll make the most of his learning opportunities and how he plans to spend time both following in the footsteps of those who came before him and leading in his own way on the team and in the Oklahoma City community.

“It’s great to be able to learn and improve,” Holmgren said. “That’s what I’m trying to do right now is just soak up all the knowledge of how things are done here, how they’re going to be done in the future, so when I will be willing to go back I can just plug in seamlessly.

Although this week marks the first official week of training camp, it’s not the first time Thunder rookies have been introduced to the Thunder’s style of play. All of the rookies competed in the Summer League and took part in practices in Las Vegas. For Jalen Williams, Jaylin Williams and Ousmane Dieng, it provided a head start in understanding fundamental team concepts and a smooth integration into the squad during training camp.

“They did a good job,” Daigneault said. “They are all very impatient. They are all competitive. None of them look overwhelmed mentally, physically, anything like that. They paced the training well. They seem like part of the team.

Competitiveness – a cornerstone of the Thunder’s identity – was on display from day one of training camp with players taking all the field on their own, voices booming all around the gymnasium and scrums descending to over.

The players enjoyed the entire offseason and came back having improved their game and body, which resulted in increased physique and conditioning during camp. All of this created an environment where the team could make great strides in a short period of time by pushing each other to improve. After a week of battling their teammates, the group can’t wait for the opportunity to unleash that competitiveness on an opponent.

“It’s good to have this competition for practice,” Giddey said. “You could feel it in the gym, the guys were going after each other and competing. Although internally we are fighting against each other, this is going to help us going forward when we have to face other teams. So it’s a great environment to play.

The Thunder’s first preseason test against Denver will perfectly encapsulate what the team will face all year in the fearsome Western Conference – young upstarts against a well-oiled, veteran-laden machine. Bringing this competitive fight up front will be the main focus, but Daigneualt made it clear on Thursday afternoon that the starting lineup that night, and indeed throughout preseason and regular season, will not is that this – a starting point, not an end indicate. What matters most in October is not who, but How? ‘Or’ What thunder plays.

“I feel like we’ve made progress from day one to the day we had a competitive group of guys with character and guys with high energy, so every practice has been great,” Kenrich said. Williams.

Throughout the 82-game schedule, the Thunder will continue to create the conditions for discovery to happen through different formations, rotations and player combinations. As this young team continues to grow, you never know what might come to fruition, but the first chance to witness the trip comes at 8:00 p.m. CT Monday night, with Thunder-Nuggets streaming live at okcthunder.com and the Thunder mobile app, as well as WWLS the Sports Animal and the Thunder Radio Network.

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Richard V. Johnson