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Thunder's Thabo Sefolosha no longer an offensive liability

Thabo Sefolosha's inability to consistently score allowed defenders to focus more on stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. That's no longer the case as Sefolosha is leading the league in 3-point field goal percentage and shooting at a career-high pace.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: January 17, 2012

Thus far, Sefolosha has drained 12 of 20 3-pointers, a modest start but one that could soon carry major significance.

“It helps,” Brooks said. “With Thabo, I'm confident in him, and our team is and he is, too.”

As important as Sefolosha's perimeter shooting has been, his overall offensive game is just as critical. Sefolosha is one of three defensive-oriented players in the Thunder's starting lineup, which puts enormous pressure at times on Durant and Westbrook, a duo that has combined for 45.4 percent of the Thunder's scoring. Throw in sixth man James Harden, and three Thunder players are responsible for 61.8 percent of the scoring load.

That's where Sefolosha's career-best 54.3 percent field-goal percentage comes into play. No longer are his errant hoists hampering his team's offense. Instead, his improved accuracy is now mixing up the attack at times on opposing defenses.

“I've done a lot of work so there's no way I should not be confident about it,” Sefolosha said of his offense. “I'm going out there and just trying to knock down shots.”

Sefolosha stopped short of saying he's now confident enough to consider himself the second coming of Durant. But he did admit that it feels good to be able to put the ball in the basket every once in awhile.

“It does,” Sefolosha said. “I'm not gonna lie.”

Sefolosha will need to stay ready, too, because his teammates will keep hitting him when he's open. They've proven in the past that even during Sefolosha's most dismal shooting slumps, no one will lose faith in him. Now, their confidence is paying dividends.

Sefolosha went 4-for-4 in the fourth quarter Monday night largely because he received two assists from Durant and one apiece from Westbrook and rookie Reggie Jackson.

“He works hard, man, and he gives us his all every single game,” Durant said. “It was just a matter of time before he started to come around and make those. And we really rely on him to make those. It doesn't matter if he misses four or five in a row. I'm still going to pass him the ball if he's open. He's shooting them with confidence and that's the reason he's knocking them down.”

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
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...
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