Charles Barkley long has said the Thunder won’t win a title until it gets more low-post scoring. Says the Thunder relies on too many jumpshots.
I’d say Chuck is half right. The Thunder could use more low-post scoring. But the Thunder doesn’t necessarily rely on too many jumpers. The Thunder this season ranked 13th in the NBA in points in the paint, 41.8 per game. That’s not a great ranking. But it is more than Eastern Conference finalists Miami and Indiana. In 2011-12, the Thunder ranked 12th in paint points, 41.3.
The Thunder gets a ton of paint points from Russell Westbrook’s drives (and Kevin Durant’s), and even without James Harden’s drives, its paint points went down only 0.5. Still, the Thunder could use low-post scoring. OKC will not get it from Kendrick Perkins or Nick Collison. But the Thunder might get some with improved play from Serge Ibaka.
Scotty Brooks last week defended his team’s low-post threats.
“We use it in a way that we have it with Russell,” Brooks said. “Russell’s really, the last couple of years, in his offensive package, that’s part of the package where he scores down low and he demands a double team, because he’s stronger than most point guards. He does a lot of facilitating from that low post spot. So we have one.
“And then we have KD. KD has also developed in that area. You’re always looking for ways to score. We were one of the leading teams in the league in scoring. I don’t know where we ended up final number, but we were one or two or three (third, 104.9 per game). So scoring, we score different ways. You score with what we have. And we have a good scoring team.”
Brooks said people want the Thunder to get another low-post scorer and another 3-point threat. “Sounds like people (want) to be an all-star team,” Brooks said. “I’ve coached it, I’m pretty good. I’m 1-0 with an all-star team. But we have a good team. And we have a bunch of pieces to the puzzle that we have to figure out. I think our guys have done a good job with that. Our low post scoring is different from Memphis. Not a lot of low post scoring bigs in the league. But I like what we do offensively.”
However, Truehoop blog used ESPN Stats & Information to come up with a primary need for each team, going into the NBA Draft. The blog’s diagnosis for the Thunder? Low-post scoring.
“Post-up plays made up seven percent of the Thunder’s offense this season (the NBA average was nine percent),” Truehoop reported. “Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka are the only Thunder players who rank in the top half of the league in post-up points per play.”
More low-post scoring is going to be difficult to find. Few low-post threats are coming out of college, the Thunder has little salary cap room to add players and outside of Ibaka and Westbrook, no one on the roster has the skill set to score consistently from the low block. And one of those guys is a point guard.