The Thunder opened training camp yesterday with their first practice. Kevin Durant, whom has been sidelined with foot injuries for an entire year, participated in a full practice with no issues. When asked about how he felt, KD had this to say to the media:
"I feel great, actually. It's a little different being out there in the practice setting. I haven't been there in a while. It's definitely going to take me some time to really get comfortable out there again. It's all new for all of us. So we're still trying to get our feet wet and figure out what coach needs us to do as individuals and as a team. So, no, we'll be fine. My conditioning feels great. I know it's going to take some time for me to really get back to feeling great, in mid-season form. But I'm on the way."
Later in the interviews, Durant quipped, "I'm the same player I was." It's clear that KD is setting an expectation for himself to play on an MVP level, but recognizes that he still has work to do. That's nothing but good news.
From Billy Donovan's perspective, the first day of camp was a chance to communicate. Donovan emphasized as such when addressing the media.
"[There's] certainly a lot of teaching to do in the first couple of hours. Just trying to get a defensive system, a philosophy in. Some of those things. Trying to break down and teach. So I thought we got a lot in, considering it was the first day."
"There's a lot of new stuff, which is different for us. For the last few years, we've jumped right into training camp. And we've all known what we're running, things like that. It's good to have some new stuff. I think guys came in with an open mind, listened, were eager to learn. It was a good first practice."
All of this seems to indicate to me that the Thunder have high long term expectations, but are fully ready for some bumps in the road early on. Having Durant and Ibaka come back from major injury would be tough for most teams. But the new coaching staff adds a lot of variables to the equation, and it's going to take time to establish familiarity.
Still, the important thing is that the Thunder recognize what their obstacles are and own up to them. They definitely seem to be doing that thus far, and it only has me feeling positive about what's to come.
The Thunder will continue training camp through mid to late October. The Thunder's Blue-White scrimmage will be on Sunday, October 4th at Newcastle High School. The Thunder's first pre-season game will be October 7th at the Minnesota Timberwolves.