EDMOND — It’s about made shots and grabbed rebounds and ball movement, defense and efficiency, too, but it is also about the talk for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season, and it was on full display at the organization’s annual Blue and White scrimmage, which commenced Sunday at the Oklahoma City Blue’s training facility.
It was clear in timeouts for the White squad, which prevailed 76-60 in the three-quarter tussle, as both Chris Paul and Steven Adams were full participants, often talking to each other and to teammates.
It was clear in between whistles on the court. It was clear on the bench when play was ongoing, especially when Paul was on the bench.
A year ago, there were times Russell Westbrook did not participate fully in timeouts, even when he was one of the five players in the game for OKC. Paul, however, was everywhere, talking to teammates and Thunder assistant Mark Daigneault, who was directing the White squad.
Talking is an emphasis for the Thunder this season.
“That [has been] one of our biggest focuses in training camp and coming out of it,” guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said. “Obviously, with us being new, we don’t know each other’s tendencies, so we can’t just play off tendencies. We have to communicate and let each other know what’s going on.”
Also, it’s just the way Paul plays the game.
“The one thing they’d probably say is they hear me talk all the time,” Paul said on Friday, following Thunder practice. “They hear me talk, try to hear my voice.
“That’s one thing, as a young player, you don’t really understand. You watch the NBA, you see all the games, but you don’t understand the thing that separates the elite teams is the talking and communication.”
• Hits and misses: Victory was unimportant at the Blue-White scrimmage, but a few of the stat-lines were interesting.
The White squad prevailed despite shooting just 42.4 percent (28 of 66) against the Blue’s 51.1 percent (24 of 47), in part because it made 7 of 21 3-pointers to the Blue’s 3 of 14, but mostly because it put up so many more shots, period.
That was less a matter of turnovers than rebounding or, more accurately, Steven Adams’ rebounding.
Agams grabbed 21 in 19 1/2 minutes. His three assists were also a scrimmage high.
• Shooting: Though the White squad did not shoot well, Abdel Nader shot well from distance, making 3 of 5 3-point attempts, while first-year Thunder forward Mike Muscala, acquired to provide shooting, made 3 of 7.
Danilo Gallinari, who shot a sparkling 43.3 percent from long-range last season as a Los Angeles Clipper, made 4 of 9 shots but only 1 of 5 3-pointers.
• Managing ‘Dre’s load: Andre Roberson, though cleared for all contact in training camp, did not play in the Blue-White as a matter of managing his workload as he comes back from being off the court for more than an entire season and calendar year.
“Just think he had three, four really good days,” said Thunder coach Billy Donovan, who also confirmed that Roberson participated in pre-scrimmage drills Sunday. “I think they felt like this was an opportunity to give him a little bit of a rest, see how he responds.”
• Bazley enjoying atmosphere: First-round pick Darus Bazley played 26 minutes and made 4 of 10 shots. He also talked about what it’s been like off the court as a member of the Thunder.
“I’m a people person, and I love all my teammates,” he said. “I think that for us to be able to get together, not even being close on the court but [also] off the court, like going over to Chris’ house for dinner and like going to Top Golf or bowling and just, you know, hanging out … I think that’s really cool.
“Just to be around everybody to get to know people personally, I think that’s really big.”