Josh Smith (Wyoming)

Northwest Notes: Donovan, Jazz, Barton

Thunder coach Billy Donovan made a successful transition from the college coaching ranks to the NBA this season, with Oklahoma City notching a 55-27 record for the season. Donovan, reflecting on his rookie campaign, chalks up much of his success to film study and input from a number of current NBA coaches, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes. “I watched an enormous amount of NBA film in the preseason and an enormous amount in the playoffs,” Donovan told Zillgitt. “I always felt from an NBA perspective, just because of the amount of time coaches spend on the game, they’re a lot further along than college coaches in terms of the nuances.

Donovan also offered up praise for Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, noting that without their willingness to sacrifice, the team’s offense wouldn’t be effective, Zillgitt adds. “The one thing that helps with that is that Kevin and Russell are unselfish players,” Donovan said. “I know they score a lot of points. I know they get recognized for their ability to play isolation basketball. Sometimes they get criticized for it, and I’ve never really understood it because they’re willing passers. When you’re a willing passer, that’s what you’re looking for as a coach. We have to play to our identity and because Russell and Kevin are so good offensively, we give them that opportunity to beat their man. That’s a good thing. You need to be able to take advantage of that as a coach and let them take advantage of it as a player.

Here’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz have predraft workouts scheduled on Wednesday with Wyoming guard Josh Adams, Louisiana Tech guard Alex Hamilton, Fairfield small forward Marcus Gilbert, Texas A&M swingman Jalen Jones, Arkansas-Little Rock point guard Josh Hagins and Utah small forward Jordan Loveridge, the team announced.
  • Nuggets swingman Will Barton had a strong 2015/16 campaign that saw him notch career-highs in scoring (14.4 points), field-goal percentage (43.2%), 3-point percentage (34.5%) and rebounds per game (5.8), but the 25-year-old needs to improve his defense and reduce his turnovers if he hopes to continue to progress as a player, as Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post writes. Barton is signed for only about $3.5MM each of the next two seasons.