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Oklahoma City Thunder: Who played well vs. Memphis?

by Berry Tramel Published: May 17, 2013

The Memphis series is over, and it’s time to study some plus/minus numbers for the Thunder. Did anyone play well?

The answer is yes, and some of the numbers will surprise you. For instance, no surprise that Kendrick Perkins had the worst plus/minus for the Thunder: -40. The Thunder was outscored by 40 points while Perk was on the court, and the consistency was startling — -8, -10, -6, -6 and -10 in the five games. We all could see that Perkins was struggling.

But Reggie Jackson also had a dubious plus/minus, and we all thought Jackson played well. Jackson was minus 33 — -4, -14, -3, -7, -5.

Here are all the plus/minus numbers for the Thunder:

1. Derek Fisher +12

2. Kevin Martin +4

3. Thabo Sefolosha -5

4. Serge Ibaka -6

5. Kevin Durant -11

6. Nick Collison -13

7. Reggie Jackson -33

8. Kendrick Perkins -40

Also, Hasheem Thabeet was a -3 and DeAndre Liggins was a -5.

But plus/minus can be a little off-kilter if you don’t factor in playing time. So here are the numbers based on 36 minutes. In other words, measuring players on the same time basis.

1. Derek Fisher +3.2

2. Kevin Martin +1.0

3. Serge Ibaka -1.2

4. Kevin Durant -1.7

5. Thabo Sefolosha -1.7

6. Hasheem Thabeet -5.1

7. Nick Collison -5.3s

8. Reggie Jackson -6.3

9. Kendrick Perkins -12.4

10. DeAndre Liggins -14.4

Those are some interesting numbers. Here are my observations:

* Fisher. Wow. Fish didn’t shoot all that well. But in a series in which the Thunder lost 4-1, Fisher had only three games in minus. What a testament to a guy who didn’t play all that well in the regular season and looked lost in the two playoff games that OKC played with Russell Westbrook. I don’t know if Fisher will be back, but this much we learned. This is a guy you can count on.

* Perkins. A monument to bad offense. Some of the worst offense the NBA ever has seen. Perk still played solid defense, but not good enough that Scotty Brooks could play him the needed 25-30 minutes against Memphis. Maybe Russell Westbrook’s return will snap Perkins back into being an acceptable non-offensive player. But without Westbrook, Perk was close to unusable.

* Thabeet. You know, the guy played reasonably well, against often-good competition. Wonder if the Thunder is grooming Thabeet to eventually contend for the starting center role? He’s not ready next season, no way. But the year after that? Thabeet got better as the season went on and got a new lease on his NBA life. I wouldn’t rule him out as the Thunder center in 2014-15.

* Jackson. A reason why you can’t jump off a cliff with plus/minus. By all accounts, Jackson played well against Memphis. But his plus/minus wasn’t too far off Perk’s. There were times, remember, that Brooks had to replace Jackson, mostly for defense.

* Sefolosha. Typical Thabo. Solid as all get out. Then gets forgotten by his coach. Play the man, Foreman Scotty. Play the man.

* Martin. I don’t see how Circle K will be back, so I don’t know if it’s relevant. But Martin was good enough against Memphis to get some things done. Joined Fisher as the only guys in plus for the series. And you know what it really means? The Thunder had the better bench. When Fisher and Martin played, often against a healthy dose of Grizzly backups, the Thunder had the upper hand.

* Ibaka. The best development of these cursed playoffs was not the emergence of Jackson. It was the revival of Ibaka. He had an horrific miss at the end of Houston Game 4, but came back for Game 5 and played well, albeit in a loss. He had two awful Memphis games, 2 and 3, but came back with a fury, scoring and rebounding like an all-star. Then in the post-season exit interview, Serge blasted the media for focusing on his shooting slump and not his excellent defense. Some guys, that would wear me out. But I took it as a good sign from Serge. That’s what I want to see from the guy. A little fire.

* Durant. All in all, I’m glad he plays in my city.

* Collison. The Thunder needed Collison to play better against Memphis. Needed Collison to play better and Perkins not to stink so much on offense. Then Foreman Scotty would have had options. Instead, he had few.


by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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