Two Biggest Issues Facing the Thunder


What do you do when your favorite team has the best record in the NBA? Nitpick!  So that is what this article is about.  The Thunder are currently 3rd in the NBA in offensive efficiency and 14th in defensive efficiency, but they could be much better. Many teams would love to have the problems that the Thunder have, but this blog isn’t about those teams.  Let me explain my mindset, so you can understand my displeasure in the Thunder’s offense this far in the season.

Results oriented thinking is defined as letting the outcome of the situation affect how you feel about it, instead of focusing on the process to get the results.  This is popular for poker players who analyze statistics during a poker hand to determine their course of action. The idea is to not be results oriented, but to make the correct decision every time.  A basketball example of this is when Westbrook pulls up for a jumper on a fast break. Westbrook is talented enough to make a number of these shots, but the idea is to not focus on the results make or miss. Even if he makes it, statistically it is the wrong shot to take; you have much better odds to run the offense and try to get a better shot. I don’t get upset when the Thunder play well and lose (See Clippers). I get upset when the Thunder play bad regardless of winning or losing the game.

If you are still reading, you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with the Thunder and their efficiency.  Just because the Thunder are 3rd in the league in offensive efficiency, doesn’t mean they can’t improve.  Having so much offensive talent on one team is a blessing and a curse. Right now the Thunder’s success is baded on 90% talent (officalish stat).  Scott Brooks said at the beginning of the season that the Thunder need to change the way they score, and below is how to do it.

The number one issue right now for the Thunder’s offense is TURNOVERS! Right now Westbrook and Durant are 4th and 5th in the league in turnovers per game respectively with eight combined turnovers per game.  The Thunder are 28th in the league currently with 16.8 turnovers per game.  If Durant and Westbrook could simply average one less turnover per game, that would bring the Thunder to the league average in turnovers, and easily make them the most efficient team in the league.  The Thunder’s saving grace is they are currently third in the league for true shooting percentage (which weighs 3 pointers and free throws into one stat).  Basically, the Thunder need to do a better job of making the smart play on offense, even when the wrong play results in a made basket.

Rebounding. It is very simple, and the Thunder’s biggest weakness on defense. They are second to last in the league in opponents offensive rebounding giving up over twelve a game.  This is a bit of a surprise, since overall the Thunder have a +1.9 rebound differential for the season.  With such a good front court it is surprising the Thunder can’t pull down defensive rebounds at a larger rate. When I watch games two things stick out at me.  First the Thunder are 6th in the league at opponents field goal percentage. Missed shots simply result in more offensive rebounds for the other team to snag. Second is Serge Ibaka.  Serge is a great shot blocker, but when he attempts a block and doesn’t get it, this leaves him in very poor defensive rebounding position. I am not telling ‘Serge Protector’ to stop blocking shots, but the Thunder need to do a better job of team rebounding.  Kevin Durant is already the best defensive rebounding small forward in the league, but there is no reason a 7’ freaky athlete shouldn’t be pulling down 10 boards a game.  The Thunder also want to use Durant a lot in transition, so this is a coaching decision to have him crash the boards, or get out and run. This will change from game to game, and will vary on different in game situations.  Where I really want to see improvement is from Thabo. Thabo is a career low rebounding season.  Thabo’s strong points aren’t fast breaking, or dribbling, ever. Why not have Thabo crash every offensive board? Not sure what Scott Brooks is doing but that seems to be the easiest way to fix this problem.

That is all the complaining I will do on the best team in the NBA for now.  I would like to see these two issues addressed before playoff time comes though.  Next time you watch a Thunder game try to look at each possession, and decide if that is the shot you would want the Thunder taking. And there is no better time to watch this than the game tonight against the Grizzlies. Check out Andrew Kennedy’s game preview here.

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