OKC future and a lack of low-post scoring
It seems that Westbrook has been labeled as the problem that is holding OKC back from a possible title. However, I believe that Westbrook's tunnel-vision is a secondary issue behind the fact that they still don't have an effective low-post scorer. I can't see any team winning a title without a big that has the moves to score consistently on the block. OKC has managed to get by with a slew of bigs who can defend and rebound, but Perk, Collison, Nazr, nor Ibaka have the post-moves to be offensive threats down low.
I know that everyone is going to dog me for this post, but it's my honest opinion. If anyone thinks that the Thunder can win a championship with their current roster, please let me know why.
As good as the big 3 (lol) of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden are. They can't do it by themselves. They need another proven scorer. Maybe a JR smith type, maybe a low post threat. I think a vet might want to go to a contender. Maybe Kaman? Camby? Jeff Green?
This years playoffs will determine Westbrookes fate imo. If they make it to the finals maybe even conference finals he wont be on the block. But if they do get knocked out early via clippers lakers spurs he may be in a different situation next year.
I honestly really dislike Westbrookes game maybe to a sign and trade with the magic for dwight...but probably not.
Only way the Thunder win a championship this season is if Durant goes for 30+ on a nightly bases and if Westbrooke averages 7+ assists anight instead of playing like he's a video game character tryin to outscore everyone on the floor.
And as always... people watch one nationally televised game of the OKC Thunder and blame something on Westbrook. Here comes the hate on him during the playoffs when nearly every game is going to be nationally televised.
Back to the subject, they don't exactly need a post scorer, they've proven the entire season that they can win without one. You don't go 46-18 with missing pieces. Especially since Ibaka's jumpshot has really improved, he doesn't clog the lane for Westbrook or Harden anymore. There is not one team in the league as loaded as their are in their backcourt. Durant is a top 3 scorer in the league, Westbrook is the best scoring point guard in the league, and Harden is the best (scoring and overall) 6th man in the league. As long as Ibaka and Perkins dump their combined 15 points, they'll be fine.
Look at last night's game as evidence. Against one of the leagues top teams with the best offensive combo in big men, without one of their big 3 for the most part of the game (Harden), Westbrook shooting 3-22, Durant shooting 11-34, they still got to 2OT and just lost that game. That shows that even when Harden, Westbrook, and Durant are struggling, they can still hang with teams.
I've been hearing this bs arguement for years now. The fact that the Thunder have three all world perimeter playes kind of levels it out for me. Do you realize how many fouls those guys draw? Kevin Durant is 5th in the league with 7.5 free throws per game, Westbrook is 9th with 6.2, and Harden 13th with 6 per game. A lot of the time it's hard to close out OKC because they get so many fouls at the end of games, and each player on that team shoots it at a high percentage. They don't need a inside presense as much as most teams because those guys already get shots in the paint.
The thing that hampers the Thunder more then anything is the inability to run an offense system, and the amount of turnovers that they generate. They average nearly a 1:1 assist to turnover ratio, and if they had a set system in play the number of turnovers would probably drop leading to more quality possestions.
They rely on jumpshooting alot. They have only 3 guys who are a threat to score more then 8 points and if they arent getting to the FT line, they dont manufacture points. They are a bit one dimensional offensively and when they get into the playoffs, teams are going to key on one of their big 3 scorers.
All of that being said, they have the 2nd best record in the West, and matchup well with just about everybody.
I personally think the teams that match up with them the best are the Grizzlies, Spurs, and maybe the Clippers.
Lakers played most the 2nd half with bynum in mike browns dog house and still pulled it out with Jordan Hill. That imo evens out the harden lose. Plus they were playing with Ebanks instead of metta at the the of the game.
I'm glad to see Hill gettin some minutes lol you know he wasnt about to be sitting behind Mcroberts and Murphy for the rest of the season.
I think what may kill them is Westbrook playing PG. He plays like an all around SG. He actually reminds me of Dwyane Wade in the 2004-2005 season (except he can actually shoot the 3.) Now I'm not saying Westbrook isn't good. The guy is an absolute beast/ but what they need is a defensive guy that can shoot the 3. In my opinion they should go after Kirk hinrich. He would fit perfect with that team. he can shoot the 3 when needed, plays defense and is a good playmaker. They need someone who can control and facilitate. All I'm saying is Westbrook needs to be put at the 3 spot because his game fits a SG rather than a PG. Also, your right they need low post scoring. Chris Kaman might get the Amnesty. Maybe go for him. Maybe try to get Carl Landry to come off the bench?
The Heat don't have a consistent low post scorer and neither did the Mavs last year
Do you even watch the Thunder? When Harden and Westbrook are in the game, Harden's the one penetrating and dishing off the pick and rolls. How could you say they lack a penetrator when they have one of the best in the league? Harden and Westbrook compliment each other perfectly and are going to be one of the league's top backcourts if they aren't one already.
And why would they move Westbrook to the 3 spot when they have Durant?....
Man Im really tired of this Westbrook hate. @toungue-out-like-23 said it best. One nationally televised game an everyone begins criticizing
The championship Bulls teams lacked a real low post scorer, as did the 80s titles Pistons teams and the 2000s Pistons club.
Look, Westbrook has struggled the past couple weeks, but what I hate is the constant flip flopping I hear. All throughout the Lockout all I hear on TV, read on ESPN, and read here is that Westbrook is the problem, all of that increases even more when he struggles to open the season, then all of a sudden everyone jumps on the bandwagon and says KD and Westbrook are the next great pair of the decade, and then now everyone thinks he's the problem?
Whether they win the Finals or lose in the first round I would take Westbrook over every point except Rose and Paul, and I feel very comfortable knowing that OKC is run by a sensible man and not an idiot that will give under the pressure and deal their prized possesion. Guys will have nights like that, stretches like that, but the Thunder have confidence in him, and they quite frankly need his scoring. The way he had been playing before April was beautiful. Him and Durant were meshing perfectly, and I have no doubt in my mind that they will start playing well once again, and if they go back to their February-March form, the West better watch out because I don't see anyone other than San Antonio having a remote chance of beating a locked in Thunder team.
As for them needing a low post scorer, it would complete them as a team, but more than that, I want to see Durant in the high post like Melo, and more like Dirk. No one has the off-balance shooting ability that Dirk has and Durant doesn't have the arsenal that Melo does, but he's still one of the 10 best players in the world when he operates at the elbow. He's fast enough to drive by you, he can create space and knock down the jumper, and he can penetrate and force the help to come and give it to the dump off man.
The thing is theirs so few true low post scorers these days, its a luxury, but not a neccessity to win a title.
I do think Ibaka needs to develop his mid range jumper though because its tough to win a title with 2 frontcourt players that give you very little on offense.
yo patty mills do you watch the Thunder play? Ibaka's jumpshot had made good improvement and it's only going to get better
@patty-mills: have you watched ibakas jumper? he has a pretty good midrange game.
which is why i dont think they need a low post scorer. as said before they get a ridiculous amount of fouls from penetrating and point in the paint, and that penetration is why ibakaa fits so well with the team, he doesnt clogg the lane and hits open jumpers, AND defends.they are almost a perfect team but hardens defense is lacking. Durant has been posting up a lot more so eventually he'll be exactly what you want from a low post scorer. and westbrook does make some bad decisions and makes too many turnovers. but cmon he transitioned to be a pg not so long ago and is improving as one. people say "ooh his assists are down he doesnt pass enough" well thats because durant and hardens assists have both gone up, and durant handles the ball more so westbrook can still score with the ball movement still going on. so in summary the Thunder dont need another player to be "low post scorer"
The fact that the Heat didn't have someone who could consistently get them easy baskets in the half-court is why they lost to Dallas last season.
Dirk isn't a dominate low post scorer, but he sure exploited his matchups when he was on the low, mid or high post consistently during the playoffs last season. He either scored, got to the line, got doubled and made the right passes. He made the game EASY for his teammates and they repayed him by shooting the lights out.
And the Bulls didn't have a dominate big man, but they had Michael Jordan who you absolutely had to double or even triple team in the low post.
Those Piston teams didn't have a dominate low post scorer, but they defended, moved the ball and got even contributions from everyone. Teams that were well coached overall at both ends of the floor and played great team basketball.
The Thunder don't get easy baskets in the half-court. It's all jumpshooting and isolations. I don't care if it's a low post big man or if Durant takes that next step up (like Dirk did) and becomes better in the low post. Regardless, they need to start getting easier baskets in the half-court.
Believe me i watch Oklahoma City all the time their on pretty much every espn game, and i mean continue to develop, its gotten better but its still inconsistant.
Its ridiculous to say that when you are the #2 team in the west and you lose to the #3 team in double overtime, where your team shoots poorly and is missing your third best scorer and the other teams best player who may be one of the best ever gets on fire late that sufficient evidence has been presented to merit blowing your team up... its not like they can win every game..
I would like to see durant spend some time establishing position closer to the basket. maybe he is not strong enough yet or does not like catching and turning, but I think that adding that element would make him and even better scorer, passer and ofensive rebounder, which is scary.
Westbrook has really been awesome this year...the fact he and KD are their only 4th quarter scorers and they both get to jump shotty in crunch time is really what hurts them. So many isos, they are a terrible half court team.
Indiana - I get that, I totally do, but a lot of what you're complaining about is that Brooks isn't creative enough offensively.
Disagree....This team seems to be built similarly to another Championship team I remember...The 2nd three peat Chicago Bulls of the late 1990's. I'm not calling the Thunder the MJ lead Bulls, but if you have enough scoring on the wings and in the 2nd unit, you don't need a ton of scoring at the center and pf positions.
Scoring leader type 1st option - OKC - Kevin Durant -27.9 ppg
2nd option 20+ ppg scorer - Russ Westbrook-23.7
3rd option 6th man of the year tyep bench scorer - James Harden-16.8
Scoring at the C position - Perkins-5 ppg, Mohammad 2.7 ppg, Aldrich- 2 ppg
Scoring at the PF position - Ibaka-9.1 ppg, Collison-4.5 ppg
Now lets look at the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls
Scoring leader type 1st option - Michael Jordan - 29.6 ppg
2nd option 20+ ppg scorer - Scotting Pippen - 20.2 ppg
3rd option 6th man of the year type bench scorer - Toni Kukoc 13.2 ppg
Scoring at the C position - Longley -9.1 ppg, Wennington - 4.6 ppg, Parish 3.6 ppg
Scoring at the PF position - Rodman - 5.7 ppg, Caffey- 7.3 ppg
@Tongue-Out-Like-23 : "And as always... people watch one nationally televised game of the OKC Thunder and blame something on Westbrook."
Maybe because as soon as the game is nationally televised, westbrook tries to show everybody how great he is... (harder than usually) and finally ends killing his own team : turnoverS, awful decision making (go always straight), poor D (you can get physical but when you eat 3s after 3s by blake in the end without watching him closer... )
3/22 (0/4 3pts) 5PF 3TO 4REB 10ASS 1ST 0BS.... in 47 min : a loss after such a lead... I won't congratulate him.
He's focusing all the criticisms (even in a topic about low post scoring :) ) because it's obvious OKC's success is about him deciding to play basketball WITH his team and serve his teammates as a pg has to do.
JoeWolf- you forgot a few key points in your comparison.
1. Michael Jordan was Michael Jordan. Comparing he and Kevin Durant because they score similarly is absurd. His hyper competitivness alone seperates the two.
2. The Bulls were an elite defensive team. The Thunder are not. The Bulls best players, Jordan and Pippen were two of the best defenders in the league. KD and Westbrook are not.
3. Serge Ibaka isn't Dennis Rodman. Dennis Rodman averaging 15-18 RPG every season. Dennis Rodman could shut down pretty much any player on the opposing team. Ibaka blocks shots.
4. The Bulls had a much more defined pecking order in crunch time. Jordan was a great iso player, KD isn't. Pippen always deferred to Jordan, Westbrook does not defer to KD. They had a player in Steve Kerr capable of knocking down big shots with the game on the line, OKC does not have a player like this.
It's easy to say in terms of offensive talent, these teams are similarly built. But the the Bulls were basically better than OKC in every coneivable way, but mainly, defensively. The Bulls were the best defensive team in the 90s, the Thunder are average. And the Bulls had a half court offense, the Thunder completely depend on transition points.
I can see the similarities based on the way you broke it down, but the Bulls were such a different team offensively.
You can give credit to the triangle, but MJ and Pippen were wings that could post up and draw double teams out of the low post. Then they were both great passers out of the double teams. They were comfortable playing in the low, mid or high post. The Bulls were really good in the half-court and got easy baskets.
The Thunder don't really get easy baskets.
+100000000 (not enough 0) for IndianaBasketball
MJ was posting and drawing double or triple teams very often... and when he couldn't pippen was replacing him in that spot. It changes everything on your team play.
Durant could do that kind of stuff... if he had the ball in his hands at the right spot at the right moment (not too soon too far away from the basket, and not at the end of the clock when westbrook realises he's not alone and he won't be able to score).... that's why russell is focusing criticisms....
but in my mind durant is repsonsible for not clarifying that issue, and brooks is responsible too for not controling westbrook (or trading him if he doesn't want to accept that).
You guys make good points, but what I was trying to say, maybe not that successfully, was that you don't always need scoring at all positions to win. It's easy to see 5 ppg and 9.1 ppg from your starting PF and C and come to the conclusion that in order to win you need more scoring at those positions.
When you have a set 1, 2, and 3 options who give you between 16.8 and 27.9 ppg then is there really room for more shots for your bigs? You have a team, in OKC, who is 3rd in the league in scoring, and when dissecting them, I don't bringing in an offensive post player is a paramount concern.
I personally think this OKC team is capable of winning the title this year, and if they had a center that averaged 12 ppg and a PF that averaged 12 ppg then all that would mean is that Durant would probably be around 24 and Westbrook would probably be around 19 or 20 ppg.
They are not a D'Antoni team that runs the whole game and would put up 110 ppg if they had more capable scoring bigs. All that would mean is that their points would be redistributed.
Perkins is garbage on offense, but Serge Ibaka has a nice mid range game now. If they have him more shots, or if he were on a different team, he could be a 10-13 ppg player, but he's not, he's the 4th option on a team with 3 very capable scorers. Add a more offensive minded post player to OKC, and all you'd see would be his production go down.
I think Oklahoma City's biggest weakness is spreading the ball around. Durant, Westbrook, and Harden are very good one on one players, and Westbrook is not a great distributer. He can still win you games, and I don't think he should go, but OKC is too one on one, when they struggle, like they did in the OT's in the Laker game, for isntance, their offense is stagnant. Most of the time one of their 3 scorers pulls something out, but when they don't no one is really getting a chance to step up because no one gives them the ball except on the break and if they're wide open.
I think their team make up is fine, they just need a little tweaking in how they spread the ball around. Even if it's running a little more pick and pop with Ibaka.
I don't get at all why they don't try Westbrook facing up in the post. It gets him into better position, will cut out the long 2s, and he's such a physical mismatch for damn near any other 1...
Okay, I'm with you. I agree with that 100%.
Yea, Jordan and Pippen were complete players and it made players like John Paxson, BJ Armstong, Horace Grant, Will Purdue, Luc Longley, Bill Wennington, Scott Williams, Tony Kukoc, Steve Kerr, Jud Buechler, etc better.