Darnell Mayberry: It's Spurs or Thunder for the Western Conference crown

The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry took questions from readers in today's OKC Thunder Power Lunch Chat.
Oklahoman Modified: March 20, 2013 at 12:19 pm •  Published: March 20, 2013
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Scott Brooks isn't serious about reducing turnovers as long as he lets KD function in the role of a guard. The players around the league know to wait until he tries to drive and then strip the ball. This team would be a lot better if they used its guards handle the ball. Your thoughts?

I don't have a problem with KD handling the ball. He was getting really good at it midseason. Now, he's backsliding. Could be fatigue. Could be mental. But I doubt it's here to stay. I think it's just a slump. When he's on his game, his playmaking is great and makes others better. I wouldn't change a thing. Trust me, you'll be grateful for his playmaking down the line.

Is this Thunder team better or worse than last year and why?

I wish I could answer that question. But that's an all day conversation. I think the team is better in some ways and worse in others.

Is the Western Conference better or worse than last year?

Same.

Is Reggie Jackson playing better than Eric Maynor did two years ago (his good year)?

Not yet. But they're different players. Maynor was a facilitator. Jackson is emerging as a scorer.

True or false: the next step for Russ and KD is to realize how and when to involve their teammates for maximum efficiency. Am I the only one who watches the game and thinks "get Serge (or someone else) a shot because he is mentally drifting on defense?"

True. But to their credit, they both do it at times. And, no, you're not the only one who sees it.

Have the Thunder gone a little vanilla down the stretch not wanting to show any new plays/wrinkles before the playoffs start?

They've always been vanilla down the stretch.

It appears that there is an attitude problem developing in Scott Brooks and KD. I don't like the way KD has acted this year, specifically whining after calls and technical fouls. And I don't like to see Brooks storm onto the court when he calls time out after a bad run. Something is changing and doesn't seem to be having a positive impact on the team. Your thoughts?

When Brooks doesn't show emotion, people rip him. When he does, people don't like it. Go figure.

Perhaps Reggie Jackson could be this year’s poor man’s James Harden during the fourth quarter in the Playoffs.

Not sure he's quite at that level. But the team definitely isn't taking advantage of his abilities. I've been saying that for months.

The Heat lost to the Pacers twice, Knicks twice, Celtics, Jazz, Bulls, Trailblazers, Pistons, Bucks, Warriors, Wizards, Clippers and Grizzlies for a total of 14 losses. What do all these teams know differently from Brooks?

Maybe they matchup better. Maybe they got lucky. Maybe the Heat overlooked them. Who knows? Losses happen. I wouldn't try to connect the two.

Is Jeremy Lamb's defense improving in his D-League play?

That's a great question, Shane. I don't know the answer to it unfortunately. But I promise you I'll look into it.

Who do the Thunder least want to see in the second round?

Looks like Denver.

How long is Hasheem Thabeet out for?

He thought he'd be available last night. So maybe tonight.

At what point does "great bench" start to mean "bad starting lineup" especially teams like Denver where the starters are often badly outscored by the bench

Depends on the team. Clippers, for instance, are legit in both.

What percentage do you give the Thunder of emerging from the West? And of winning the championship?

50 percent to come out of the West. 10 percent to win it all.

If the Thunder has only 10% chance, what will it take to get the other 90%?

A miracle.

Apparently KD is changing his basketball style. More assists, more rebounds. What do you think of it?

I like it. When he's a threat to do more than score, he's even tougher to defend and he makes everybody else better.

If there was a Kevin Martin resign-ameter at the ‘Peake, that meter would be trending downward pretty steadily as the season has progressed. Do you think Presti would even offer him $7 million per at this point?

I doubt it.

Is it true that Jeremy Lamb got into it with the coaching staff because he didn’t want to go to the D-league?

Jeremy Lamb??? That's news to me.

Here's a softball question: Who do you think is Durant’s best friend on the team?

I'm not sure he has one. I think he's cool with everybody.

The Thunder has the number four player in turnovers in the league (Durant) and the number five player (Westbrook). Ideally this team would not have one player in the top five, but having two is inexcusable. Coaching!

Brooks isn't out there turning the ball over.

No, Brooks isn't turning the ball over. But he lets Durant function as a 6’11” guard, makes too many mistakes, and gets stripped. This is the coach’s fault.

Part of a coach's job is to develop players, right? That's what he's doing with Durant. Most seem to be too shortsighted to see it. But if Brooks didn't let Durant blossom and become the best player he could be people would be killing him for that. Again, down the line you'll be thankful Durant has become a better playmaker.

Thinking ahead to the Playoffs: who does the Thunder matchup better with between the Clippers and the Grizzlies?

Clippers.

Who is better as a point guard, Harden or Westbrook?

Harden is a better playmaker.

Do you think that Brooks will increase the time of R Brewer on the court?

Not sure. Last night was a good sign, though. He brought him in late in the first quarter to match up with Denver. If he does that more often going forward, maybe he will get comfortable with Brewer.

Preferred first round matchup for the Thunder: Rockets or Lakers? I think Houston might be an easier out but beating L.A. in two straight playoffs would be great as a fan.

Houston.

LeBron is on another level. It sounds cliché, but he's got tremendous physical gifts packaged with an incredible basketball IQ. That said, who would you rather have as a teammate: LeBron, Kobe, or Jordan?

Jordan. That's not even a question.

Brooks’ strategy is obvious: run, gun, outscore the other team. Fourth quarter of tight games, give it to Durant. Simple and will be successful most of the time. But it won't win championships.

This team prides itself on defense.

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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