Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks paid a visit to Tulsa on Monday, March 8, to take a first-hand look at three of his players (Byron Mullens, Kyle Weaver, and DJ White) in action for the Tulsa 66ers. I had the chance to talk to Coach Brooks after the game to get his impressions on his players as well as the 66ers, a team that has won four straight and nine of its last 11 games to improve to 23-16.
Kevin Henry: After watching the game tonight (a Tulsa win over Fort Wayne), what were your overall impressions?
Scott Brooks: I think they looked great. Nate (Tibbetts, Tulsa head coach) has done a terrific job. It’s never easy to integrate guys into your lineup during the season, but he’s done a great job. Watching tonight, you could tell it’s been a smooth transition and he has his team playing hard. Nate is a talented coach with a very bright future.
KH: What impressed you the most tonight?
SB: The defense. I’m very impressed that Fort Wayne didn’t score for nearly eight minutes in the fourth quarter.
KH: Defense is a high standard for you and for everyone in the Thunder organization, isn’t it?
SB: Absolutely. I liked their defense tonight, especially in the fourth quarter. The guys were really getting after it. I like this team and their spirit. There was a lot of excitement in the building tonight.
KH: How important is it for you as a coach to have an affiliate team like Tulsa that is so close to Oklahoma City?
SB: It’s great, especially when you have guys who need to be sent down because of injury or to get some additional playing time. While they’re here, these guys get to develop their games. Playing in games and playing in practice are two different things. When guys have missed time, they need game reps. This gives them the opportunity to get those reps. It’s also a benefit to be so close because, on a night like this, I can come over and watch them play. There aren’t too many coaches in the NBA who can say that. It’s a nice opportunity.
KH: What were your impressions of your three players on assignment?
SB: I think they’re all getting better thanks to the game reps and hard work.
Note: Since this interview, White and Weaver has been recalled by the Thunder.