The second half of the season starts tonight with the Thunder at Denver.
Oklahoma City currently is third in the West at 27-14, but we all know the Thunder has lots to work on in these final 41 prior to the playoffs. Is there something that can solve just some of the team’s issues and help the Thunder perform better down the stretch? That’s the topic of discussion for our panel in today’s question of the day.
What is one change you would like to see the Thunder make in the second half of the season?
Force tempo more. The Thunder on the run is one of the prettiest sights in the NBA. I sat next to a scout at the Lakers game Monday who was absolutely floored when watching the Thunder in transition. Opposing fans gasp when the Thunder goes on a fastbreak. Get the ball up-court quickly, even after the opponent scores. Outscore whatever mistakes you might make defensively. Lead the league in scoring. You’ve got the horses. Run ‘em.
Quit shooting so many 3-pointers. If you can’t make ‘em, don’t shoot ‘em. The Thunder has attempted 632 3-pointers, which is just 22nd in the league. But that’s still too many for a team making just 32.4 percent of them, which ranks last in the 30-team NBA. You don’t have to launch a bunch of treys; Boston is third in the league in 3-point percentage, .389, yet ranks 29th in 3-pointers attempted with 560. That’s right, the Celtics are shooting significantly better than the Thunder from 3-point range but has attempted 72 fewer 3-pointers. Shoot 20-footers. Shoot 15-footers. Shoot hook shots. Drive to the hoop. Shoot bank shots. Shoot anything except so many dang 3-pointers.
Keep guys from getting to the basket so easily. Too often this season, Thunder opponents have scored easy baskets because no one has stopped them from getting to the rim. There have been uncontested ally-oop dunks. There have been layups where the guy has driven the lane and almost gone untouched. Listen, I understand that the other team is going to score points. The Thunder isn’t going to shut out someone. But when points are scored because no one stops the dribble or takes a charge or gets a body on a big man? That has to stop.
Start Serge Ibaka. Quit fooling around with 26 minutes a night. Give Ibaka starter’s minutes and let’s see how hi’s presence in the first five might alter the defense. Stick him in for Nenad Krstic. It’s not the ideal position for Ibaka, and there might be more breakdowns initially. But Ibaka has proven to be a fast learner and the Thunder is 6-3 when Ibaka starts at center. Ibaka’s athleticism also complements Jeff Green and allows for better weak side help and more protection in the paint. Besides, one guy we know is going to be around next year. The other guy’s roster spot isn’t so safe. Krstic and Nick Collison never play together, but they could be an intriguing frontline. With the right matchups, they’d be a good defensive pair, while Krstic could have more of an opportunity to score in the second unit.