The big news these last few days for the Oklahoma City Thunder was the signing of veteran point guard Derek Fisher. Fisher played in his first game with the Thunder last night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Thunder were in need of a solid backup point since the Eric Maynor injury and Reggie Jackson hasn’t exactly been exceeding at the job. Fisher brings with him a lot of experience, five championship rings and leadership.
How will the signing play out? The staff at Thunderous Intentions is here to break it down.
We know one area the Thunder weren’t strong at this season was a backup point guard. How much does Derek Fisher help this?
Andrew Kennedy: I think he helps a lot. The Thunder were getting basically nothing from Reggie Jackson’s minutes and it seemed like kind of a weakness for OKC. While I don’t expect much scoring or assists or even great defense from Fisher, I do think it is a significant upgrade.
Cody Brees: Since James Harden will be the primary ball handler with the second unit, the backup point guard for the Thunder is mostly a spot up shooter. Fisher is having a down year only shooting 33 percent from behind the arc this year. But that is an improvement over Reggie Jackson’s 22 percent.
Blake Potash: The impact Fisher may or may not have will not be on the court. I think Reggie Jackson has been better than Fisher this year, especially on the defensive end. Things shouldn’t change much for the Thunder at the point guard position.
How big of an impact do you think Fisher will make in terms of intangibles, experience and in the locker room?
AK: This is going to be the biggest impact that Fisher will bring to the Thunder. I think having him in the locker room has to help players like Russell Westbrook and I think his experience and leadership will have a positive effect on the entire team.
CB: I believe this will be the biggest impact Fisher makes, if he truly buys into the Thunder team. The Thunder’s best players are still very young, with no real teacher at the guard position. You noticed the impact Kendrick Perkins made on the defensive end on and off the court with his championship experience. Hopefully Fisher can provide some of the same.
BP: I would like to think Fisher is going to help a bit with this young locker room. He has been a part of a championship atmosphere, and knows the mentality of an NBA Finals contender. Generally I’m not the biggest fan of bringing in veteran leadership, it only helps in certain situations, but after last nights’ game, it looks like it may work out.
How many minutes should Fisher play?
AK: This is the area where I am a little concerned with the Fisher addition. I can totally see Scott Brooks loving him a little too much and playing him 18-20 minutes when he should be playing 15 or less. And once the playoffs come around, Westbrook should be playing 40-plus minutes which means unless Fisher is going to be playing alongside Fisher, we shouldn’t see more than 10 minutes a night from him.
CB: Regular season I wouldn’t mind him playing around 15 minutes once he learns the system. I think in addition to the backup point minutes, I would love (really, really love) for him to take some minutes away from Cook when the Thunder play small. Once the playoffs roll around we will see how well he is doing, then decide how much we want him playing.
BP: 10-15 minutes. With Daequan Cook now out for a few weeks, Fisher should take all of his minutes, and some from Royal Ivey and Reggie Jackson. Jackson’s play warrants as many minutes as Fisher, but it looks like Coach Brooks will give the veteran a majority of the minutes behind Westbrook.
Will we see Fisher playing crunch time and will that be a good thing?
AK: I think in some games we will see him playing crunch time obviously when the Thunder decide to go small, which they do a lot in the fourth quarter. Before it was Daequan Cook who played alongside Durant-Westbrook-Harden-Ibaka. We’ve yet to really see Westbrook out there with another point and it will be interesting to see if it’s a good match. I personally like Westbrook playing off the ball some and if that is the case with Fisher in, it may be a lineup that works well for the Thunder.
CB: Only if the Thunder go small, and there is an un-athletic guard on the court. The Thunder go small a lot at the end of games, so I wouldn’t be surprised there, but against teams like the Lakers and Clippers with multiple athletic guards I wouldn’t expect to see him much.
BP: Hopefully not. Fisher should be nowhere near the ball with the game on the line, leave that to the Durant, Westbrook, and Harden.
Are the Thunder significantly better with Fisher?
AK: I guess the jury is still out here. They probably aren’t significantly better but are improved overall. I really like the move overall and think it will benefit the Thunder in multiple ways as the season progresses.
CB: I would say no. I am not even sure if they are better with Fisher at this point. Fisher is having a terrible year. He is 54th among point guards in PER. That being said, Jackson is only .5 better. On paper the improvement is minimal. In the locker room will be the most significant improvement.
BP: I would say they are marginally better, at best. The Thunder are a pretty solid team at the moment, and didn’t need to make any moves to remain the favorite in the West. If Fisher can keep the player’s heads in the right direction going into the playoffs, this will have been a successful transaction.