Scotty Brooks has been an excellent coach for the Thunder. But Foreman Scotty faces perhaps his most difficult challenge in his — can you believe it? — sixth season.
Brooks has to be a different coach in 2013-14.
Less attaboys, more listen-up. Fewer pats on the back, more crushed felt tips on the eraseboard. Less exhorting, more demanding.
For this Thunder team to remain the NBA title contender it has been two years running, Brooks is going to have coach up this roster that has taken a step back offensively.
The transition last season from James Harden to Kevin Martin went smoothly. Circle K is a professional scorer. But no way will the transition from Martin to some collection of Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Jackson and Derek Fisher be as cushy.
The Thunder still has two of the world's best players in Kevin Durant and, soon enough, Russell Westbrook. But gone are the days of rolling the ball out on the court and saying sic ‘em. The NBA's best defenses will more than ever make the Thunder work for points.
“I think we need better execution throughout our offense,” Nick Collison said. “We need to get more shots, more baskets, out of good offense. Not having to create offense.”
Back when the Thunder had Harden to go along with Durant and Westbrook, offense came easy. If a play broke down, who cared? Chances were great that whoever had the ball could take their defender one-on-one in a variety of ways.
Durant and Westbrook still can do that to some degree. But we saw in the Memphis playoff series of 2011, and the NBA Finals of 2012, and particularly in the Memphis series last playoffs sans Westbrook, that it's all hands on deck. And that includes the offensive coordination.
“We're not going to give the ball to Serge (Ibaka) and say, ‘Go score,'” Collison said. “That's not good offense for us. There's very few guys in the league good at that.
“Even Kevin, who's probably the best scorer in the world, we still gotta get him shots out of the offense. We can't say, ‘Here's the ball, go score.' It's too hard.”
Made even more difficult by the Thunder's apparent lack of outside shooting. Martin was the Thunder's most frequent and most accurate 3-point shooter. Durant and Thabo Sefolosha no doubt will remain solid from long range, but who's making up for Martin's void?
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