Oklahoma City Thunder: Breaking down OKC's options for a lineup change

A look at the Thunder’s options if coach Scott Brooks decides to change the starting lineup for Game 3.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 24, 2014


Position: Small forward

Who he could replace: Thabo Sefolosha/Nick Collison

Why you would: The Thunder’s biggest advantage against the Spurs over the past two seasons has been its youth, length and athleticism. Jones provides more of that, with or without Serge Ibaka in the lineup. If he starts at power forward for Collison, he can use his size and versatility to help the Thunder play a small ball style despite still being big. If he starts for Sefolosha, Jones could give the Thunder more offense while using his length to be just as disruptive on defense.

Why you wouldn’t: Jones has had issues with energy and effort since college. The Western Conference Finals isn’t the stage to risk having a player struggle in those two areas. There’s also no guarantee he’ll give you what you need offensively. In his five games starting at shooting guard in the regular season, Jones averaged 4.6 points on 37.5 percent shooting in 20.1 minutes. He attempted two 3-pointers a game and made only 20 percent of those. The Thunder went 3-2 in those contests.


Position: Point guard

Who he could replace: Thabo Sefolosha

Why you would: Notice a theme emerging here? The Thunder desperately needs someone to take pressure off of Durant and Westbrook. Jackson has done just that in the past (see Game 4 against the Grizzlies), and the Spurs haven’t had an answer for his driving ability this season. Jackson would give the Thunder an additional offensive threat, which could have a trickle-down effect if it ushers in better defense.

Why you wouldn’t: Jackson’s game in many ways is the same mold James Harden’s used to be for the Thunder, a spark plug off the bench who is best with the ball in his hands. To give him that opportunity, however, he has to have moments in which Durant and Westbrook either are playing off the ball or are not on the floor. With Durant averaging 43.3 minutes this postseason, those opportunities are few and far between. Jackson’s erratic defense is another potential issue.


Position: Guard

Who he could replace: Thabo Sefolosha

Why you would: The Thunder needs someone the Spurs must respect on the perimeter. Fisher has been a Spurs killer throughout his career. He can knock down open shots and at times supply dogged defense. It might not be the most traditional adjustment, but it’s one the Thunder might be able to get away with given Fisher’s experience and ability to make an impact on both ends.

Why you wouldn’t: Starting Fisher means yielding five inches to Spurs shooting guard Danny Green, which could make him feel even more comfortable as a shooter. It also means the Thunder will lose its biggest stabilizer in the second unit. Given the way the Thunder has played, it might not be the best idea to subtract from a steady bench without any guarantees the move will supplement the starters.

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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