Hello once again fellow Thunder fans! The Thunder have gone 2-2 in the past week, and it’s definitely one we’d all like to forget. Not only did the Thunder drop a game to former head coach P.J. Carlesimo, they also dropped a game to the worst team in the league. Then again, if the Thunder’s worst week this season involved two easy wins over crappy teams, then it tells you that the Thunder don’t have a lot to complain about.
Still, we’re Oklahomans, and we like winning. So let’s put our stethoscopes on and diagnose what’s wrong with the Thunder as they are now. To keep things fun, I’m going to add a hilarious picture of each person I’m complaining about. You know, for good measure.
Scott Brooks Isn’t Very Creative With Rotations
It’s hard to hate on a guy who brought the Thunder from a lottery team to a title contender, but man, Scott Brooks really loves putting in certain guys. Barring injuries, the Thunder have had the same starting lineup since February of 2010. The manner of rotations has stayed the same as well, with Kevin Martin taking Harden’s minutes, Thabeet getting Mohammed’s minutes, and Jackson getting Fisher’s/Maynor’s minutes. But not every player is the same, and as such, replacements with different skillsets shouldn’t be given the same roles as those guys.
What should Scott Brooks do? Well, there’s tons. He could stop abandoning Martin, who can’t score on his own, with the bench. He could let Ibaka play with the bench, to add more scoring power. He could use Reggie Jackson alongside Russell Westbrook, and have them develop a repertoire. He could put in Collison when Perkins isn’t suited to a particular opposing center. The list goes on, but I’d really like to see some more on the fly decision-making. It’s what helped Carlisle win the championship with the Mavericks in 2011.
Kevin Martin is Forcing Bad Shots
Martin has a history of injuries, so whenever his performance goes downhill, people automatically assume it’s directly related. I really doubt that’s the case, given that he’s athletically the same as he was on Day 1 of this season. But Martin’s problems are more mental than anything else. The worst case scenario for him is when his pump fake in the corner doesn’t work, and he ends up totally covered. Usually he passes the ball out, but with more defenders becoming weary of his pump fake, he’s started to jack up well-guarded shots. He’s also made more bad drives into the lane, where he ends up getting the ball stolen or avoiding contact and forcing a bad layup. I’d like to see this guy get more transition opportunities as a whole.
Hasheem Thabeet is Terrible
I really don’t like hating on a guy who seems really nice and has one of the GREATEST TWITTER ACCOUNTS EVER. But when you grade him from a strictly basketball perspective, he sucks. His stats are virtually the same as they were in his rookie season, his +/- is the worst among the rotation players (save Reggie Jackson), he can only score less than a foot away from the rim, he’s too slow to help defend, he’s too thin to hold his ground, he’s too uncoordinated to have the ball at any time, and any block or steal he gets comes because he’s standing in the middle of the lane. During the Wizards loss, I counted 5 straight scoring plays where Thabeet played a major role in giving up a basket. Honestly, I just wish the Thunder would remove him from the rotation and go small with Jones, Lamb, or Liggins. Please, no Orton.
Poor Perimeter Defense
The problem is ongoing and will probably never be solved, but the Thunder are a bad perimeter defense team. There’s always some guy that really seems to hurt the team. Kevin Durant’s absentmindedness let the mediocre Martell Webster score a season high on Wednesday. Kevin Martin will often get exploited for his poor ability to close out on shooters. Russell Westbrook pressures way too much and often gets lost on the floor. Even Sefolosha has his share of problems, because he’s always looking to provide help defense or looking for a steal. At the end of the day, it’s a problem that will continue to pop up periodically for the Thunder. There’s not much they can do about it other than tightening up their communication and rotations. But it is something that’s easy to point to in a loss.
Random Thunder Highlight of the Week:
Alright, so there’s nothing TOO amazing to show you this week. But Kevin Durant’s crossover move is becoming a staple of his routine, and it’s pretty awesome to see it in action, especially when it’s done three consecutive times. That’ll teach DeRozan to poke the ball out.