The Oklahoma City Thunder have started the year well winning 10 of their first 14 games which puts them first in their division and third in the Western Conference.
The Thunder have a new look this season since trading away James Harden and they are learning to play together on the fly, especially in the case of new sixth man Kevin Martin. We are seeing some different lineups than we expected and some rotation changes from head coach Scott Brooks as well.
Noticeable absences to the Thunder rotation so far this season are rookies Perry Jones III and Jeremy Lamb. Jones and Lamb have each appeared in only six games this season with their minutes mostly made up of garbage time.
The Thunder selected Jones 28th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft and received Lamb in the trade with Houston. Lamb was picked 12th overall in the Draft.
Despite both rookies being extremely talented and good things being said about each all the time, Brooks has elected not to insert them into the rotation so far this season. Instead we are seeing more minutes from Kevin Durant and Thabo Sefolosha. Durant is averaging 40.0 minutes per game and Sefolosha is at 27.8.
With the Thunder second unit struggling as of late, one wonders if Brooks will give the rookies a shot sometime soon. Or will it take an injury before we see either of these guys getting significant minutes?
The situation in OKC is that they are a well-established team with experienced players getting all of the minutes right now. It’s not exactly a situation where you need to play your rookies. At least, that’s not what it seems like.
The Thunder have some issues right now though and Jones or Lamb definitely seem like two players that could help out instead of just wasting away on the bench.
What we’ve seen so far from Jones isn’t much. He was great in the preseason but in the regular season hasn’t been playing with the same kind of confidence and has been very passive overall.
Lamb hasn’t really gotten any minutes but when he’s been out there, he’s always looking to shoot and appears extremely confident.
Jones and Lamb are both great athletes who have the potential to play good individual defense pretty much right away. They may take some time to become better help defenders but you would think they need a little bit more of a chance to crack the rotation so far this season.
Their potential as scorers is higher than Sefolosha or Hasheem Thabeet too. With Eric Maynor also struggling on the second unit, someone like Lamb might be due for a shot to come in and get some shots up and see what happens. Jones developed great chemistry with Maynor in the preseason in the pick-and-roll and if used like that now could also break out and start helping the Thunder score more.
They need to be given more of a shot this season. It’s still very early but Brooks has already been going with a shorter rotation of just nine players. You don’t want to have to do that all season and keep playing Durant so many minutes.
The rookies can help with this if given some more playing time. A perfect chance for this will be the Thunder’s next game Monday night at home vs. the Charlotte Bobcats.