The Oklahoma City Thunder had increased their winning percentage each and every year for five straight years – until they narrowly missed that mark this season – a large part of the year being played without their starting point guard.
They have won numerous Northwest Division titles and a Western Conference Final, and they made the NBA Finals in 2012 where they fell to the Miami Heat.
So why is all the focus on Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks’ job?
The Oklahoma City Thunder are now down 2-1 to the Memphis Grizzlies in their first round Western Conference playoff series. In those two losses, both games have gone into overtime and the margins have been extremely close. Memphis are a terrific basketball team and a very defensive-minded unit, and the Thunder were always going to be in for a tough series, but why blame the coach?
It seems that for a while now, when things are going well, a head coach’s job is safe. However, when things go awry, the blame lands at the feet of the guy with the whiteboard. In this case – Scott Brooks.
Sure, it doesn’t help when one of your star player’s (Russell Westbrook) brother takes to twitter and calls you out either.
Chris Westbrook sent out a tweet that read “We need a new coach ASAP like Rocky”.
Russell Westbrook was quick to defend his coach and in no uncertain terms lay the blame squarely back on his brother. “We don’t conduct business like that” Westbrook said, adding that he has always had a great respect for and bond with head coach Scott Brooks.
Many see Scott Brooks as a mediocre coach who has a list of abundant talent and that his players are the reason they win games. While Brooks may not be the most talented x’s and o’s coach going around, drawing up plays is only one piece to the puzzle.
Brooks received a contract extension that will see him with the team through until the 2016 – the same time Kevin Durant will become a free agent. Coincidence? Not likely. Kevin Durant has always spoke very highly of Brooks and makes it very well known that they have a very close bond and that Brooks is a “players coach”.
Getting a team full of talent and with two superstars to want to play together and want to play for you is a big part of the coaching role and one that Brooks has clearly mastered. He also employs an offense that allows the players to use their talents and make the right basketball plays – something that seems to really irk all those who are not a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Questions about implementing an offense, playing time, dependency on the star duo of Westbrook and Durant, lack of creativity, rotations, flexibility and use of reserves and rookies – all seem to come to the forefront when the Thunder lose. When the Thunder win, it is all due to Durant or Westbrook.
Nobody is perfect and you can be sure that Scott Brooks feels the same way. He wants to win. His goal is exactly the same as Kevin Durant’s, Russell Westbrook’s and all the Thunder fans – winning an NBA title.
The Memphis Grizzlies are a tough team to beat – especially at home and especially when they are playing the high level basketball that they have in games 2 and 3. You can bet Scott Brooks knows that and is trying to find a way to get the job done – to even the series and head back home.
Game 4 will show us whether or not Brooks has been able to find the game plan that will get the Thunder a very important win, but if he does, more than likely the praise will be credited to one of the star players.