Thunder’s Chris Paul, Billy Donovan bond as basketball junkies


    As well-known as Chris Paul has long been for his play, Thunder coach Billy Donovan said he has gotten more than a taste for their shared interest in studying the NBA every night. Paul often has said he watches every game he can around the league, sharing calls and texts about his observations, a habit Donovan said he especially enjoys.

    “The thing I love is I’m obviously a basketball junkie and I love the game,” Donovan said on Monday before the final Rockets game against Paul and the Thunder this season. “The thing I love about him is he can talk about it 24/7. Even away from the court, to be able to talk about things, talk about our team, talk about what he’s seeing out there, as a coach, you really enjoy that. It’s great when you have a point guard that’s thinking about it all the time as well.

    “He’s is always striving, how to improve and get better as a player, how he can do that. I also think philosophically, with a guy like Chris, it’s not just for him, it’s for the rest of the group. As a point guard, he’s been a great leader and a great facilitator his entire career. When you bring in a new team with all these different pieces you’ve got to be able to build a relationship and communicate to be able to share vision with him and get his thoughts of what he sees and then you work together.”

    That input has been valuable, Donovan said, especially on a particularly young team with nine new players.

    “I knew what he was capable of doing in terms of his ability shooting 3s, his ability to play in pick-and-roll, his ability to pass the ball,” Donovan said. “Those things are really well-documented. How does he take all the things he does well and incorporate them inside of this group? That’s where he’s done a really, really marvelous job.”

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