Thunder still looking to solve ball-movement puzzle

OKC is improving in assists and hanging onto the ball better, but still isn't where elite teams usually are in those stats.
By John Rohde Published: November 6, 2012

The Thunder won the daily double last season — or rather lost it.

OKC finished dead last in the league in assists (18.5) and turnovers (16.3) in 2011-12.

To do that and still advance to the NBA Finals was nothing short of absurd.

Daily-double losers are lucky to not finish in the conference cellar, yet the Thunder wound up being the Western Conference champs.

“That's mind-boggling,” coach Scott Brooks admitted. “I have no answers for that except that when we really dial in, we usually take care of the ball.”

Four games into the 2012-13, OKC has improved both ends of the daily double.

The Thunder entered Tuesday night's game against the Toronto Raptors ranked 18th in assists (21.0) and 24th in turnovers (17.0). Those rankings don't figure to move much after OKC had 24 assists and 19 turnovers in a 108-88 victory before a sellout crowd (18,203) at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Good ball movement can be breathtaking, and at times against the Raptors, it was precisely that — particularly from point guard Russell Westbrook, who finished with eight assists.

Poor ball movement can be equally as unappealing. The ball sticks in everyone's hands and five games of one-on-one usually follow.

Why is there good ball movement one game and poor movement the next? Do players constantly need to be reminded? Is it because of the opponent?

“That's a very good question,” Thunder forward Kevin Durant said with a smile. “We've seen it in spurts, and there's no excuse for us not to have it there every game.”

Reserve point guard Eric Maynor also smiled while trying to find an answer.