Billy Donovan Rumors
Westbrook still almost always watches film by himself — though occasionally he invites youngsters like Jerami Grant to join him — but he still influences his teammates when he’s not there. “He tells them, ‘you can’t just watch film on your guy,’” Coach Billy Donovan said. “’Because what happens if we get crossmatched? You have to know all the personnel on every team and what every guy does.’”
Guard Alex Abrines, who has missed the Thunder’s past two games with back spasms, did some “light shooting” at Saturday’s practice, Donovan said, but it was unclear if he’d be ready to play Sunday when the Thunder hosts Portland. “I think he feels like it’s getting better, but I don’t know if he’s at a point where he feels he can go out there and play yet,” Donovan said.
“A lot of times as a coach you can sit there and look at the score and say it’s easy to perform in those situations, but really it’s the first time Josh (Huestis) has gotten any significant minutes in the regular season here,” Donovan said. “We’ll see what that holds for him in terms of moving forward, but Josh to his credit – from the D-League situation to coming to practice every day, going back and forth – his attitude, his work ethic, has been really good and I think he’s improved and gotten better.”
What does Payne’s return mean for Semaj Christon, who has backed up Russell Westbrook the first 36 games of the season? Donovan said it could open up even more three-guard configurations between Payne, Christon, Westbrook and Victor Oladipo. “We’re getting another creating guard to come in to help with ballhandling, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that Semaj is cut out of the mix,” Donovan said. “It could be a situation where those guys are actually on the floor together some.”
Since those back-to-back losses, and entering Tuesday’s matchup against Miami, Westbrook had averaged 38 points (48.4% shooting overall, 40% from three-point range), 12.4 assists and 10 rebounds per game as the Thunder went 4-1. With the Thunder (19-12) sitting at fifth in the West, the timetable for Oladipo’s return has not been set. “The major problem for him is shooting,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan told reporters on Monday. “That’s the biggest problem because he just has a really hard time following through. And especially the farther he moves away from the basket, the more painful it is for him. The more he has to flick his wrist, that’s where he struggles.”