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Oklahoma City Thunder: Thunder bench needs to provide more stops, more baskets

Now that the second half of the season is under way, Oklahoma City's once-potent bench needs to contribute more.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: January 23, 2013

“More stops. More baskets,” Jackson said.

Oklahoma City's bench thus far has struggled to supply either on a consistent basis.

There are games like Tuesday's, when the reserves scored 25 points and were a key reason why the Thunder throttled the Clippers 109-97 inside Staples Center. Then there are games like Sunday's, when OKC's second unit scored 18 points, all by sixth man Kevin Martin, and does the Thunder no favors in a three point overtime loss at Denver.

“It used to be we'd extend leads every time, or make a run,” said Nick Collison. “This year it's been up and down. So we got to get that consistency back with our second group.”

Following the preseason trade of James Harden, the Thunder was forced to figure out a revamped second string on the fly. Sharpshooting guard Daequan Cook, a key reserve at times last season, also was shipped to Houston as part of the Harden trade. The Thunder also moved on without the services of veteran free agents Nazr Mohammed and Derek Fisher.

The turnover transformed one of the league's best benches a year ago into an average bunch this year.

After averaging 31.3 points and outscoring opposing benches by 5.1 points a year ago, the Thunder's second unit entered Wednesday's game at Golden State averaging 28.5 points and being outscored by its counterparts by an average margin of 0.9 points.

“The main thing is just about finding other ways you can help because it's not always about the points,” said Martin. “You got to get rebounds, make plays and do the little things. I think that's something that our second unit has been able to do … So it's not necessarily about bench scoring as long as you've got people that are effective.

“Our team as a whole, we still got some more steps that we want to take. So of course, that second unit, we still got some more steps that we want to take and that can be on either end of the court. That's just how it is when you're (42) games in. You just look at certain areas you need to improve in.”

A lack of balance on many nights seems to be one of the primary causes for concern. The game at Denver in many ways highlighted the season-long issue. Martin, for example, with a 15-point scoring average is responsible for more than 50 percent of the bench unit's scoring production.

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by Darnell Mayberry
Assist Editor/ NBA Coordinator
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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