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Blue/White Scrimmage Recap (White Team 73 – Blue Team 67)
The Thunder held their 9th annual Blue/White Scrimmage for Training Camp. This year the Thunder had the scrimmage at John Marshall High School in Oklahoma City. From the beginning of the day with Thunder Alley to the tip off the kids and parents were showing support. The kids were happy to have the Thunder at their school and were really excited about the scrimmage. The John Marshall band was able to kick things off in the arena with the drums and horns. That was followed by the player introductions as they had students come out with each member of the Thunder staff. That was a really great moment as the kids shared moments and brief words with their favorite Thunder players. During the national anthem, there were a couple of kids that had the fist in the air for a silent protest. No Thunder players followed in the silent protest but they did embrace the kids after the anthem.
Coming into the game everyone wanted to see how the new-look Thunder squad’s playing style would be. The white team was star-studded and dominate with Russell Westbrook,Victor Oladipo, and Steven Adams in the starting lineup. The blue team was led by Enes Kanter and Anthony Morrow who was the leading scorer on the night. Both teams competed like crazy and wanted to make their presence known in the paint and on the defensive end. Billy Donovan said, “The defense is ahead of our offense right now”. With the coach saying that we knew what was going to happen especially with playing time on the line. We got a lot of chippy play and defense tonight in the scrimmage.
Finding chemistry was key for the Thunder tonight especially heading into their trip to Spain on Friday. Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo were making some good strides playing together and both were locked in defensively. Combined Westbrook and Oladipo had 23 points on the night in the scrimmage. These two will continue to work on trying to find a common ground on what the other player’s hot spots are on the court. Westbrook definitely showed a lot of leadership tonight as he was all over the court and congratulating teammates while being a high five machine. Tonight wasn’t about Westbrook’s stat sheet it was more so about him learning his teammates and trying to figure out what the Thunder will look like on the court together.
The two players that were very impressive and stole the night in the scrimmage were Anthony Morrow and Domantas Sabonis. Anthony Morrow was the leading scorer for the blue team and was making the best of his opportunity to shine. Morrow was locked in and taking the game very seriously. He was hitting jumpers and going to the basket very aggressively which was a good sign for the Thunder fans to see. When Morrow is trash talking people and in a zone, he’s hard to guard. It was like Morrow went in the time machine and came out with a Nets jersey on. Anthony Morrow finished 7/10 from the field for 20 points and kept his team in the game. Sabonis was also very impressive in this game tonight as he was able to get to his spots in the paint. Sabonis went up against Enes Kanter a lot tonight and scored 14 points and may have got the best of him. Domantas was able to show off some of his 3 point range and was showing great passing ability. If the Thunder can get this production from Sabonis and Morrow on the season on a nightly basis people in the NBA would have to take notice.
Andre Roberson had a really great night tonight as well for the white team. Andre finished with 13 points, 6 assists, and 4 steals. He was all over the place and was making his presence known on the defensive end and the offensive end. Andre loves challenges and he was able to use his defense to create his offense easily. When Roberson is that aggressive things are usually going very good for the Thunder and like he was telling the media “We’re still trying to find our chemistry”. Once they find that chemistry the Thunder will be up and running. This team is definitely built off of defense and can use the perimeter defenders to get those 50/50 balls that they didn’t get last year.
Cameron Payne was able to get in the game and played for a few minutes. Payne gave everyone a scare when he got his shot blocked and fell down holding his leg. The Thunder PR told the media that he bumped knees with another player and that he tweaked his ankle. Even though Payne was done for the night you can see that he was ready and the foot wasn’t an issue.
Overall the Thunder team is shaping up to look really good. If the scrimmage was any indication on how the season will go the Thunder fans have a lot to look forward too. There was so much potential and promise with this team and the fact that their defense is going to be swarming will be a site to see. This team looks like it will be a top 3 playoff prospect if they stay healthy. The Thunder have the youth and the talent to make a splash and they got everyone excited after the scrimmage.
Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman