Thunder 2nd round exit - fail or unforeseen consequence
I know there have been some Thunder / Scott Brooks topics here but I want to discuss this early elimination with you guys.
The Thunder had a 60 win regular season and as bad as the Harden trade seems to look at some people, it was the right decision cause they couldn't effort Harden gettin the max and to be honest they have been dead last in 11/12 in assists as a team and they improved a lot this year in this category which was a huge step foreward.
But I'm still kind of confused about how this playoffs turned out after Westbrook was gone. Reggie Jackson was more than solid and did a great job after beeing thrown in as a starter but this seemed to be the only adjustment Brooks made right.
He played Fisher way too much but even this wasn't the reason why they fell short to me cause in most of the situations Fisher made some big plays (except inbound turnover).
To the Kevin Martin experiment didn't work out. He is not the 3rd best player on the this roster nor was he a reliable scorer in the playoffs. His regular season stats look okay and his percentages are better than the past couple of years.
This are Perks stats this postseason:
11 games; 11 starts; 19 mpg; 2.2 ppg; 3.7 rpg; 0.270 fg%; 2.2 to; 0.6 apg; 0.7 spg; 0.4 bpg
In 78 regular season starts he had 143 fg, 227 pf, 109 to, 83 blk, 43 stl, 111 ast, 466 reb and made 44 of his 72 fts.
In the 2nd round against the Grizzlies he averaged 0.174 fg%.
I mean Ibaka wasn't exactly dominant against Memphis too but he is the only offensive mindet player on the roster who plays the two big position and had to deal with one of the best if not the best froncoursts in the league and the DPOY in Marc Gasol.
Tim Duncan said after the Spurs beat the Warriors that the playoofs are about adjustments and that his team learnt to adjust after they were overchallenged in the beginning of the 2nd round but learned to adjust. This is what the Thunder (Brooks and his coaching staff) have to learn. I've seen people on this board that believe the Thunder won't win anything with Brooks running this team and I can clearly see why now what they mean. They have been outcoached by Spoelstra last year who was considered a so so coach one year before this and no one is taking about this anymore. But in reality the Thunder roster itself is the problem in my opinion - they are just an incredible unballanced team.
All the scoring is coming from the backcourt / wing players or from Ibaka who is a stretch four on offense, that's it.
The 2nd best scoring big man on the Thunder is Collison with 5 ppg in 20 min per game! The team either scorers or defender on the team. Ibaka, KD and Russ are the only players on this roster who can work on both ends of the court. If they bring in Collison and Sefolosha to defend other players, they get 12 ppg out of them - per game and this just can't work out. I like a defensive mindet mentality on teams but hey have gone way to far with this. Perk was brought in to be the defensive anchor but he isn't 10 percent the player he once was in Boston 5 (!) years ago!
I really think the Thunder should overdo the roster this summer. Martin is a UFA this summer and Perk under contract for 2 more years for a whopping 17.6 mil until 2015/16. They absolutely need Perkins to leave. Given his "producion" he won't be traded to any team so the only chance they can go ahead is to amnety him if they want to find a identity for this team. He is absolutely useless to me. I know that he brings toughness to this team but this is by no means worth 17.6 mil per year for zero production.
If I'm the Thunder, I will let K-Mart walk if he wants more than 7 to 8 mil a year which is likely. Bring in Lamb and and Jackson of the bench playing more minutes. Sign a decent backup 3 like Chris Copeland, Matt Barnes, Chase Budinger or Reggie Williams. Add Tibor Pleiss and draft a center like Len, Adams or Zeller. If they don't want to play a rookie big minutes (what they really should do), bring the rook of the bench and start Collison or even trade the rookie and maybe PJ3 for Gortat or Varejau.
This team needs to be way more versatile on offense, a better team defense unit and more of a collective. To much iso ball but more ball movement. Ibaka is averaging 1 apg and this is inacceptable.
They had a lot of trust in the young guys like Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka back then and need to be brave enough to realise that this experiment didn't work out. They had progress for every year until now and it was clear that this day would come but this roster needs to be restructured. I really would like to see some vets who aren't like 38 years old but who have something left in the tank and can contribute.
The only winner out of this situation the past weeks is Russel Westbrook. He has his flaws but his energy and desire was missed really bad. I've nerver seen KD complain so much about every shot and plod back to the defensive end so many times like in the Memphis series this year. And by the way the discussions that this Thunder Team minus Westbrook is still better what LeBron had to carry through the east in Cleveland is stuid but in reality KD needs to get stronger and be a leader and finally a post player. He may be the worst close to seven feet post player in the league.
In games 3, 4 and 5 against Memphis he shot 4 of 22 in the 4th and overtime, which is inexcusable. He still averaged 31/9/6 through the playoffs but heck he can't walk around with his beanpole forever. He is a fantasitc player but to round out his game he needs to be even more versatile and play more in the paint. Someone with his footwork, handling and BB-IQ should know this already.
They were doomed after Westbrook went down. The Thunder are just too light on scoring options to keep going deeper in the postseason.
Not to knock on Scott Brooks, but he leans far too heavily on his stars and on traditional lineups during games. He refuses to learn from his mistakes. For example. Kendrick Perkins. Perkins was TURRIBLE for the entire playoffs. Derek Fisher wasn't doing much either. Yet Brooks was still playing them for extended minutes. Why play them? It seems like Brooks is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, hoping that the power of Durant would bail him out yet again. I don't see much of an offensive scheme either. He's just using the same thing and expecting different results.
Not a failure in the sense that they lost Westbrook and no team can just replace a guy like that. But I still don't agree with all the people who said they made the right move in letting harden go since they couldn't afford him. The thunder offered harden 4 years and 54 mill. He wanted 4 years and 60 mill. So we are talking less then 2 mill per season. If they hadn't given perkins 4 years and 36 mill( 9 mill per season) in 2011, they could have easily made up that 2 mill difference. Barkley, Kenny, ej and shaq were going on about that after the thunder were eliminated saying it was between harden and ibaka(it didn't have to between them if they grossly overpay perk) and how no one knew harden would be as good as he was in Houston( I thought he was clearly an all-star caliber player). Okc can spin it all they want, they allowed a young all star who gladly accepted his team first role to walk. Big mistake regardless of what eventually happened this season.
This team is in win now mode and more rookies (especially young bigs) will help them much right now. I'd try to trade Perkins, Jones, and this years pick for a legit bigman like Varejao, Gortat, or Pekovic. Let K-Mart walk because I don;t think they can afford him. Start Sefalosha at the 2 as usual and have Lamb off the bench as the 6th man (I'd also sign an offensive minded veteran here too to help Lamb with the load--- maybe Redick??). With their 2nd round pick they can grab a backup for KD like Jamaal Franklin. Then their lineup would be:
People are hating on Perkins, but he did block one of Z-Bo's shots at the end of regulation to send it to overtime. Everyone knows he isn't an offensive player, but he did a decent job defensively, I think he was better suited to guarding Z-Bo than Gasol, he has a better understanding of defending big men solo than Ibaka does, Ibaka is a great help defender, but isn't anywhere near as good on his own man as he should be.
If I'm not mistaken Ibaka blocked him. There is a reason why Brooks didn't play Perkins much. He is horrible a was shooting below 20 % from the field. You just can't play Perk heavy minutes. The lack of options on this team of servicable two way players is obvious. Brooks has either to chose between defensive mindet players or scorers. As I said before Ibaka, KD and Westbrook are the only players who deliver on both ends of the floor which makes them so predictable. Imagine some more players like Jackson, Lamb or two decent offensive players at the big positions of the bench playing more minutes. You just can't leave them open anymore. You just don't have to defend Perk, Collison and Sefolosha.
Presti has to find more players who can carry the team on both ends of the floor.