Kendrick Perkins handles the ball poorly for a center.
Russell Westbrook is just 6-foot-3.
But Thunder coach Scott Brooks still sometimes uses Perkins as a point guard and Westbrook as a center in practice.
Scott Brooks, via Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report:
I’ll also change player positions in practice so they can understand each other. I’ll run a skeleton offensive drill—no defense—where I’ll have, like, Perkins at point guard and Russell at the five running pick-and-rolls. Then I’ll stop and say, “Perk, you didn’t get into the ball; you didn’t force it over the screen and square him up. And Russell, you didn’t bump the screener; you didn’t come to the level of the screen and you didn’t wall off the point guard.” They’re like, “It’s not as easy as I thought.” So it helps them appreciate each other’s role.
If you’re not already intrigued by Brooks’ practices, here’s what he has to say about Westbrook and Kevin Durant:
They’re both so competitive. Russell shows his competitiveness in a physical presence way. He wants you to know that he’s coming at you and he doesn’t like you and he doesn’t care about what you think, where Kevin’s competitiveness comes from, “Watch me. I’m not going to tell you what I’m going to do, but I’m going to be better than you.”
It’s really a unique combination and they do a great job of really complementing each other. Early on in their careers, and I still do it occasionally, I put them on different teams in practice to see who can rally their teammates to beat the other guy. And they get after it. It makes the scrimmages much more intense.
What I wouldn’t give to watch those scrimmages.
Brooks has his Xs-and-Os and rotation issues. It wouldn’t be a shock if Oklahoma City fires him before Durant hits free agency in 2016.
But Durant is clearly in his corner, and I think Westbrook is, too. The Thunder typically play hard, which is often a reflection of the coach. Brooks is doing something right, and these practice details are a glimpse into his approach.