/articleid/3441316/1/pictures/861175"> Thunder coach Scott Brooks says he doesn’t care about individual awards, but he may be a candidate for NBA Coach of the Year. PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN
We’ve improved in almost every single category.
"He’s put us in a great position where we can make the playoffs this year. And he’s putting us as players in great positions to showcase what we can do. He’s done a tremendous job each game with getting better as a coach and making us better.”
After finishing as one of the worst defensive teams a year ago, the Thunder has blossomed into one of the league’s best in 2009-10. Oklahoma City is allowing a shade less than 96 points per game and before Sunday’s game was tied for first in opponent field-goal percentage at 43.6 percent.
And while the numbers tell one story, the player development in the Thunder’s roster touts a totally different tale. Behind the scenes, Brooks has gotten the most out of young guns Durant, Green, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka. Durant pointed to Brooks’ intensity. Westbrook credited Brooks for maintaining a consistent message. Green talked about his coach’s hard-working mentality.
"You’re not always going to do the right thing,” Westbrook said. "But for the most part this year, I think he’s been pretty much on point with all his decisions. He knows exactly what he’s talking about, and we all see that.”
Durant was asked to guess the last time Brooks took home an individual honor. The Thunder’s star, only half-joking, replied, "Middle school.”
When given the answer, Durant said, "Really? Then he’s way past due.”
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...