Has there ever been a team as good as the Oklahoma City Thunder where the general consensus is so often that the wrong players are on the floor together?
It’s really pretty crazy that the Thunder have been this good the past few years and just about everyone agrees with things like Kendrick Perkins playing too much and the Thunder not going small enough.
Perkins has value in this series against Memphis which is a huge deal for the Thunder considering that you know he is going to get a good amount of minutes. But of course, Scott Brooks is still screwing everything up with his rotation.
As Zach Lowe from Grantland pointed out, Brooks is playing Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison together about 20 percent as often as he plays Ibaka and Perkins.
That’s right. The Thunder play their two best big men together hardly ever.
The reason for this is the rotation. Of course, Perkins and Ibaka start so they are going to get those minutes and that is fine.
Collison plays mostly with the second unit. He’s out there as the only big quite often when the Thunder go small. Occasionally he will close out a game as the only big. Very rarely does he close out games alongside Ibaka or even Perkins.
It’s actually pretty weird that Collison plays so little. He played 19.5 minutes per game during the regular season and somehow he is at just 15.8 minutes per game in the postseason.
Perkins was 25.1 in the regular season and is 19.0 during the playoffs.
It’s kind of an issue of the mentality Collison has when he comes in games. He knows he’s not playing a ton so he will commit hard fouls whenever a player has an opening near the rim and he plays so hard that it actually would be hard for him to sustain for 30 minutes every night.
That’s still no excuse for Brooks.
We know just how limited the Thunder’s starting five was offensively even when they had a healthy Russell Westbrook. That has taken a huge hit now and against Memphis, who is one of the best defenses in the league, that’s a pretty big problem.
The Thunder need to try and find a way to boost their offense as much as possible and playing Collison a little more instead of Perkins would help with that.
I may be in the minority believing that Perkins is at times a better defensive option than Collison. But in this series, we know Collison is proven to be great at defending Zach Randolph in the past while Serge Ibaka continues to struggle in pick-and-roll assignments in the playoffs.
Brooks will never change the rotation. The only real hope is that Collison comes out with some big offensive games while Ibaka does the same. It will leave Brooks no choice but to go with the hot hands.
It doesn’t seem too likely that will happen in this series though.
The best bet going forward will be the smaller lineups for the Thunder that have proven to be pretty effective against Memphis so far in this series, especially since Memphis has tried to match up with them.
Game 3 is tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. CST. The series shifts to Memphis and both teams have had plenty of rest and time to think up adjustments. Hopefully, Brooks decides more Collison (with Ibaka) is needed.