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Darnell Mayberry: Harden trade was no mistake

The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry took questions from readers in today's OKC Thunder Power Lunch Chat. Here's a look at the Q&A.
Oklahoman Modified: March 25, 2013 at 3:39 pm •  Published: March 25, 2013

Listen buddy. You don't have to tell me about DeAndre Liggins. I'm the driver of that bandwagon in case you haven't heard. Have been since the preseason in Hidalgo, Texas. There's room aboard if you'd like to hop on. But you will not start questioning the driver!

Is it fair for me to believe that the Thunder will never win a championship as long as Brooks is head coach?

A lot of people seem to be making that proclamation lately. I think it's a little much. Remember when everyone thought the Heat would have to can Spoelstra to win it all? How'd that work out for Miami? I know, I know. The Heat have that LeBron James fellow, right. But there's this guy in OKC. His name is Kevin Durant. You might have heard of him.

Do you really think they're holding something back for the Playoffs like the team has suggested in interviews? What could that possibly even be?

I haven't seen or heard anyone say that in interviews. Wouldn't be very wise of them to admit it if they did. The one thing I think that can go up a few notches is the intensity. Other than that, this team is what it is.

Is it rust or old bones and calcium that Fisher hasn’t shot or played defense well? By the way, did you know that Fisher shows a 0.6PPP via Synergy Sports? To their metrics he is the best defender in the league.

I want a refund on my Synergy subscription.

How confident/worried should fans be that this team can pull it together for the post season?

I'd lean more toward worried than confident. Everything from the second round on is a huge question mark.

How worried should fans be that the Thunder will not make it past the second round?

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being The Sky Is Falling, I'd say 6.

Is it reasonable to think Jackson will be an 8-point, 3-assist, 3-rebound player next year?

Are you kidding me. He should be that THIS year.

What do you think about the Thunder’s defense so far? Do you think it needs some improvement?

Yes. It's atrocious at times. And even when it's been good lately it hasn't been consistent.

What does the Thunder need to work on the most in these last regular season games?

Most? I don't know. But it'd be good to see the team shore up the same things as always. Ball movement. Rebounding. Defense.

OKC has to go 8-3 to get to 60 wins. Think they get there?

Yes. They've got some pretty winnable games on deck. Washington, two against Milwaukee, Sacramento, Minnesota. That's five right there the Thunder should and probably will get.

I'm starting to think that K-Mart has gotten out of his slump. He is passing better and grabbing boards better. Do you think this is just him getting more acclimated to Brook's system or is he just assuming the Harden role better?

Neither. There is no real system and he is no James Harden. I think he's just starting to make shots again. Every player goes through a slump. He had his as a shooter. Now he's being more aggressive and getting more shots at the basket on backcuts and such. The evolving chemistry with Nick Collison is helping as well.

Will Brooks stonewall you on interviews via Russell Westbrook now?

I don't know. But Brooks is a professional and all class.

What kind of a player should OKC pick in the draft?

With Collison getting up there in age and Perk's contract running out sooner rather than later, not to mention numerous questions behind those two in Perry Jones, Hasheem Thabeet and Tibor Pleiss, I'd say a big man. There are plenty in this draft. But I'll tell you a guy that I've loved all season and think could really help the Thunder. That's Victor Oladipo. He reminds me of Russell Westbrook in a lot of ways. There is no real need for him with Westbrook, Jackson, Lamb, Liggins and, possibly, K-Mart. But I think he's good enough to put pressure on the coaching staff to play him.

Do you think OKC can beat San Antonio in the Playoffs?

I have doubts.

Every time Fisher shoots, Cuban laughs!

While others shake their heads.

At what point do you think the coaching staff will implement a more intricate (or any) offense? Any signs they ever will?

That's a great question. Brooks has said that he's wanted to keep it basic so that his players could master the fundamentals before moving on to more intricate things. Well now the pressure is quickly rising for him and his staff to show that they do indeed have more intricate things. Because Durant and Westbrook and company look ready.

I think Fisher's minutes are an insurance policy. He has been out half a season and Brooks wants to make sure he is in shape and in the flow of the game. If Reggie falters in the playoffs, Fisher doesn't come in having not played all season.

The thing about insurance, Tom, is that you rarely use it.

How great of a storyline would a Houston vs. OKC first round matchup be?

Pretty good … for four games.

Have you broached the topic of playing time with Fisher himself? I'd think even he might be surprised to be playing this much at 38 years old.

Highly doubt it. He was dressing all alone at his locker last night when Collison was the only other one in the locker room. A few of us in the media were still in there talking to Collison and someone jokingly asked if I was going to talk to Fisher. I laughed and said "What am I going to talk to him about?" That brief exchange got me thinking about what if I did talk to him? What would he say? In my opinion, Fisher is such a competitor and has been a winner for so long that I doubt he sees himself as a detriment. He's a prideful dude and has a history of getting exactly what he wants in his career. Guys like that don't let go of things easily.

How far down the roster do you see guys getting playing time in the Playoffs? Is 7 or 8 deep enough to not see KD and Russ playing 48 every game?

Starters, K-Mart, Collison and a platoon of Jackson/Fisher. Thabeet might creep in there at times depending on the matchup.

Do you think Durant is feeling the pressure to keep the 50-40-90 stats up?

I don't think. I know.

Is 50-40-90 affecting Durant’s shot selection & aggressiveness? Think he'll be freed up once playoffs start?

Yes, yes and yes.

When is Durant going to take this team by the neck and lead them like LeBron does the Heat?

It's a question I ponder every day.

What's the deal with Russ and interviews?

He has decided that he doesn't like doing it, and that's the way it is.

So last year at this time the Thunder was in a better position heading into the Playoffs?

I'd say so, but only because of personnel.

OKC would sweep Miami.

In what? Connect Four? Monopoly? Dominoes?

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
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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