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Oklahoma City Thunder looking to bring back the ball movement

Scott Brook’s can’t coach. If you read any number of twitter accounts, NBA forums or facebook posts, the Thunder are being held back by the very guy at the helm – Oklahoma City Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks. A common knock on the offensive game plan of Brooks’ is the isolation heavy offensive structures he employs. Or should we say he allows his superstar duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to operate in.

When the Thunder made it all the way to the NBA Finals in 2012, they were ranked #2 overall offensively (based on points per possession). Their ball movement allowed the offense to really catch opposition teams out of position and allow them to get very good shots. Now, you could say that James Harden was a pretty handy asset back then, but the following year, when the Beard was plying his trade in Houston – the Thunder again ranked second overall offensively.

Rewind to last season however, and the Thunder dropped the ball – literally. They fell from 2nd to 7th in terms of offensive ranking, although you could largely credit Westbrook’s absence and the subliminal scoring season that Durant had. Now, it appears they are trying to right the wrongs and start to employ the ball movement and passing that the reigning NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs utilize so effectively.

When you have Durant and Westbrook on the same team, you are not going to struggle to fill up the points column. Both players are devastatingly effective of the offensive side of the ball, but the idea here is to create a more efficient structure – not just more effective. The Thunder started this process when they used the #21 selection in the 2014 NBA Draft to secure Mitch McGary from Michigan. The 6’10” power forward is quite the talent and while he appears to be a year or so away from cracking the rotation on a regular basis, one aspect of his game that analysts love is his passing / ball movement / basketball IQ. Sounds like someone the Thunder can utilize.

OKC also brought in Sebastian Telfair to replace Derek Fisher as the third string point guard. “Bassy” has always been a prodigious talent and while he never lived up to the huge hype, he can play basketball. A floor general, Telfair will know when and how to make the right play and he again – can pass the ball.

We can also expect to see more of Steven Adams in his second season. The Kiwi center put together a wonderful rookie campaign and the speed of his development has impressed many. While his offensive game needs refining, he can defend, rebound, has plenty of energy – oh, and he moves the basketball.

Starting to see a pattern here?

Josh Huestis will spend his first season in the D-League with Tulsa but moves the ball well, Andre Roberson who is tailor made to replace Thabo Sefolosha also passes the ball well AND moves extremely well without it (he has a knack for finding the seams and making the right cut at the right time) and even stretch-four Grant Jerrett can pass the rock. When you add these pieces to players like Durant, Westbrook and Jackson – it gets pretty interesting.

The other notable move the Oklahoma City Thunder made this off-season was to get one of the best pure shooters in the game. Anthony Morrow can flat out shoot the basketball from the perimeter and in order to make the most of his specific skill set, the Thunder will need to get him nice open looks. Durant and Westbrook garner plenty of attention and Serge Ibaka is also a defensive focal point, but if the Thunder can keep the pressure on opposition defenses by moving the ball – it makes life a lot easier.

While it appears on paper as though the Thunder have made minor moves this off-season, it also alludes to the fact that OKC don’t need to swing for the fences. They just need to swing the ball.

And now it looks likely they will.

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