Roll call on the Thunder summer.
Drafted Mitch McGary. Tried to sign Pau Gasol. Did sign Anthony Morrow. Re-signed Grant Jerrett.
Let’s see. A rookie with all kinds of offensive talent but probably not ready for NBA defensive assignments. A former superstar who isn’t the player he used to be but still has a great set of ball skills. The NBA’s second-best shooter, behind only Steph Curry. And a big man whose only discernible ability, albeit it strong, is deep shooting.
The trend is clear. The Thunder’s priority is to upgrade its offense. And the statistical trend says that’s smart.
The Thunder ranked second in NBA offense (points per possession) in both 2011-12 and 2012-13 but slipped to seventh last season. Points per possession is the best way to gauge an offense (or defense), and the Thunder slipped to 1.081 points per possession last season, after averaging 1.102 the year before.
A team with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook wouldn’t seem to have to worry too much about offense. But few NBA teams win a championship without being elite at both offense and defense. The Thunder offense needs to be at its 2013 level, not its 2014 level.
Scotty Brooks even alluded to it on June 1, during his season-ending press conference.
“We want to become a better passing team, but we have improved in that area,” Foreman Scotty said. “Sometimes, we want it now. But it takes time to get better every day. If you’re willing to put the work in, you will see gradual improvement, and that’s what we’ve had.”
Summer league seemed to confirm that desire. The Thunder wants to be a better ball movement team and stressed that in Orlando. Of course, that has to happen when Westbrook and Durant have the ball, too.
“Offensively, we have moved the ball,” Brooks said. “I think three years ago, we were last in assists. I think this year, we were in the mid (range), 13 or 14 (actually tied for 13th). We can get to the top 10. That’s something that we want to become better.”