By Michael Kinney
EDMOND– In the first showing of the Oklahoma City Thunder, one thing seems to be evident. The 2019 version of the Thunder is going to be a squad that gets out and runs.
During Sunday afternoon’s annual Blue and White Scrimmage, both units took advantage of their athletic ability and used the fast break as an integral part of their offense instead of just picking and choosing when to run.
Part of that had to do with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Gilgeous-Alexander was the starting point guard for the Blue squad and tried to push the pace whenever he had a chance. This allowed him to attack the defense and catch defenders off guard as he led all scorers with 21 points on 8 of 13 shooting. He also added six rebounds and two assists.
“He’s very uncanny. He’s got a really, to your point, a great wingspan. He’s a great finisher. I think he’s deceptive when he gets to the lane, because of his length,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “He’s got an unbelievable way where he just gets by people and he gets around people and he gets into the lane. And when he gets into the teeth of the defense with his size, generally good things happen.”
In his second year, that is an area, Gilgeous-Alexander wants to keep improving on.
“That is one of the things I work on, changing speeds and being deceptive,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “I’m not the fastest guy and I know that, so I have to do it other ways.”
Along with Gilgeous-Alexander, the blue squad starters consisted of Terrance Ferguson, Nerlens Noel, Hamidou Diallo and Deonte Burton. Andre Roberson didn’t play.
Chris Paul and Dennis Schrodder were teamed up with Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari and rookie Darius Bazely on the white squad.
In the only meaningless score of the year, the White squad defeated the Blue 76-60.
Gallinari and Abdel Nadar each had 13 points for the White team. Schrodder added 12 points and Paul chipped in with 9. Adams hauled in 21 rebounds.
Bazley showed a lot on both ends of the court as he contributed 8 points and seven rebounds.
“He is just growing every day. He has a lot of talent; I don’t know if you all know that. It’s just his work ethic and how hard he plays,” Gilgeous-Alexander said of Bazley. “Obviously at his size and for his position he can rebound really well and things like that. I think for him just, keep working and he will be just fine.”
The scrimmage was set to only go for a pair of 10 minute quarters. But they added another quarter to get some more action in.
However, the Blue & White Scrimmage was definitely a lot different than in the past. In previous years, the team, cheerleaders and entire organization would go to a school or town and make the scrimmage an event that would draw hundreds of fans from the community.
This year, the Thunder did away with all of the hoopla and just went to their old training center in Edmond and invited 50 kids from a local YMCA to watch. For some reason this year they took the community aspect out of it and turned the event into a glorified practice.
The Thunder will return to the court Tuesday night in their first preseason game of the season. They will host the Dallas Mavericks at the BOK Center in Tulsa.
Their first game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena is Thursday when they face a squad from New Zealand.
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider