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Thunder 2010-11 season report card

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook earn ‘As'; Team's draft, coaching and defensive stoppers get ‘Cs' according to Berry Tramel's year-end report card.
by Berry Tramel Published: May 29, 2011

/articleid/3572427/1/pictures/1427660">Photo - Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks looks up after calling a timeout during game 5 of the Western Conference Finals in the NBA basketball playoffs between the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks looks up after calling a timeout during game 5 of the Western Conference Finals in the NBA basketball playoffs between the Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Team coaching: C. The Thunder won five more games than a season ago and then won two playoff series. But two major concerns arose that are the coaching staff's responsibility. The Thunder's defense took a step back until the Perkins trade. The Thunder obviously missed Ron Adams, the defensive coordinator who last offseason returned to the Bulls' staff (and worked wonders there). And the Thunder's season-long problem of execution in a half-court offense really glared in the playoffs. Those fallacies are on Brooks and his coaches.

Defending home court: B. The Thunder tied for the fifth-best home record in the regular season, 30-11, then went 6-3 in the playoffs. But the Thunder had trouble at home against the elite teams. Against Chicago, Miami, Boston, Orlando, Dallas, San Antonio and the Lakers, the Thunder was 2-6. Still, 30-11 is the same home record as the Heat, Lakers, Blazers and Grizzlies. Only Chicago (36-5), San Antonio (36-5), Boston (33-11) and Denver (33-11) had a better home record.

Road toughness: A. The Thunder also tied for the fifth-best road record in the NBA, 25-16, then went 3-5 in the playoffs. Against those same elite teams, the Thunder was 4-5 on the road.

Defensive stoppers: C. Thabo Sefolosha and Perkins did not play as well as their colleagues. Perkins gave himself a D for his on-court play after the trade. Everyone, including Celtic general manager Danny Ainge, admits Perk was not healthy. But everyone expects Perk to return to his previous status as an elite defender; remember, Boston fans went into mourning when Perkins was traded. Was Sefolosha hurt, too? Sefolosha said he was about 70 percent for the playoffs, and his defense throughout the season was less oppressive than it was a year ago. If Thabo isn't defending at a high level, his value is small.

Bench rotation: A. According to 82games.com, the winningest Thunder lineup, in terms of score and minutes, was Brooks' small-ball unit of Westbrook, Harden, Sefolosha, Durant and Ibaka. But they played together only 76.5 minutes. The next-best fivesome was Eric Maynor, Cook, Harden, Collison and Mohammed, who after the February trades played 119.3 minutes together. Remarkable. Brooks found a total-bench unit that not only gave his starters much-needed rest, but a nightly spark for the team. And while everyone's favorite lineup — Westbrook, Durant, Harden, Ibaka and Collison — was effective, it was not as effective as Brooks' starting lineup of Westbrook, Durant, Sefolosha, Ibaka and Perkins. Generally speaking, Brooks knew what he was doing on substitutions.

Conduct: B. Another season, another blank police blotter. What is Sam Presti running over there on Lincoln Boulevard, a basketball team or a monastery? The late-season technical fouls, though, are a concern. Westbrook and Perkins would have been baited by the Mavericks had the Western Conference Finals gone longer; both were in danger of a one-game suspension over technical fouls.


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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
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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