Billy Donovan was interviewed by Royce Young of ESPN.com today. The whole interview is a pretty long read, but they do touch on a lot of interesting topics. Here's eight things I learned from the interview.
1. KD's contract situation will never be discussed
"I have never, and will not talk to Kevin about that. I don't want to. That's his personal situation. I came in here because of the shared vision I felt with the organization and the core values and what it represents."
Good. KD has affirmed his willingness to stay in OKC before, so this isn't an alarming situation.
2. The Thunder will still play big men
Listen, I think one of the things to look at is the NBA draft, right? Look at it early, they're all taking bigs! So there's value and premium on big men, but certainly there are certain situations where you can play a little bit small, and Kevin's done that in his career.
OKC's roster is stocked with Adams, Kanter, Ibaka, Collison, and McGary. Thus, Donovan's willingness to play bigs isn't much of a surprise. It's impossible to get away with playing any less than four of the bigs per game, simply because there's so much talent there. Ibaka and Kanter are almost certain to get over 10 points per game.
Still, the concept of Kevin Durant at power forward is a very powerful one. OKC needs to utilize that sometimes, and props to Donovan for being willing to go with both lineups from Day 1.
3. KD, Russ, and Serge are the only guaranteed starters
Look out, Andre Roberson and Enes Kanter! Looks like the shooting guard and center position are still up in the air.
4. Managing KD's minutes will be a collaborative effort
"The one thing I really feel great about here is the staff and the team Sam has set up medically; with Donnie Strack and all those guys there, it's going to be a collaborative effort. They're going to be able to monitor Kevin's minutes, see where he's at, and I think that that's good because we're always going to make decisions in what's best for the welfare of the player and the athlete's well-being physically."
Given that Scott Brooks would go entire halves without sitting KD, I'm relieved to know that there will be more people looking at the issue. It's obviously important for KD's health, but I also think KD-less time is important for the confidence of the team.
5. Analytics are important, but "gut calls" that may go against the numbers still exist
Sometimes in a coaching situation, you end up making an instinctive gut call at the spur of the moment of what you feel is the best thing at that time, but I'm a big believer of the analytics. I know our organization is, they do a great job with it. I think it's an incredible tool.
This whole analytics debate is too vague for me to even try and say anything about it. I'll just say that Donovan sounds very reasonable here. And I like having a reasonable sounding person make decisions for my team in clutch situations.
6. Donovan won't try to force KD or Russ to play a certain way
"The one thing that I don't want to with Kevin and/or Russell, is they've got to play to their identity and who they are, and trying to create an environment for them to go out and be who they are is very important to me."
Given that Russell Westbrook regularly drives statheads insane with his inefficient play, I'm totally okay with this. Russ is definitely good enough to be given the benefit of the doubt, and he's already been doing it this way for years. KD is ridiculously efficient already, so I wasn't really expecting any issues on his end anyway.
7. Donovan is willing to change his strategic philosophy
"There's certain things that work in the NBA that don't work in college. And there's certain things in college that don't work in the NBA. So there's going to be certain things that I have, that have been a staple for me at Florida, but it may not be the best thing here, or it may not work here."
Obviously, this is nothing but a plus.
8. Communication is a huge priority
Donovan spends a large portion of the interview talking about how he's going to need to rely upon and communicate with the people surrounding him. Not just the front office and the players, but also the assistant coaches and team logistical coordinators. Donovan also plans on using much of the same terminology that Brooks used, if only to ease the coaching transition.