Tag Archives: Russell Westbrook

Why OKC Misses Durant and Westbrook

The OKC Thunder display Friday highlighted why they miss Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook so much.  In a home loss to the Pistons Scott Brooks‘ team made one free throw.

Over 53 minutes and nearly one-hundred shot attempts only Steven Adams would make a foul shot for the home team.

See KD has led the NBA in made free throws for five years straight.  In addition Russ has been among the top-five league wide in each of his last three healthy seasons.  Getting to the foul line and converting has been the primary advantage for OKC during their five year run of success.

Sans their stars the Thunder have become the first team in at least three decades to make fewer than two foul shots in an overtime game.

Only the expansion Toronto Raptors featuring rookie Damon Stoudamire played an entire NBA game while not hitting a freebie.

 

                                       Team
Date          Tm  Opp       Result  MP  FGA FT FTA   
2014-11-14   OKC  DET L 89-96 (OT) 265   96  1   6  
2014-02-08   MEM  ATL      W 79-76 240   90  1   1 
2013-11-24   PHO  ORL     W 104-96 240   95  1   3 
2012-01-14   TOR  CHI      L 64-77 240   86  1   7 
2004-02-25   NJN  MIN      L 68-81 240   83  1   5 
1996-01-09   TOR  CHH      L 91-92 240   84  0   3 

OKC Thunder: Small Lineup Plays Big

The Oklahoma City Thunder have played ten playoff games in 2014.  Understanding the sample size is still small we could see flukes in OKC’s production by lineups.  But early on there are dramatic differences in Scott Brooks 5-man units.

The Thunder’s most common lineup is Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.  In 127 minutes played through 10 games this unit is playing even with it’s opponents.

When Brooks goes small and inserts Reggie Jackson and Caron Butler for Perk and Thabo we see an improvement in rebounding and big jump in shooting efficiency.  Overall this small unit is +30 points/100 possessions.

This is an outrageous difference and is not likely to last.  But ten games in there is no argument which Thunder lineup has been most productive this playoff season.

NBA Playoffs: Strange Glasswork

Who was the leading rebounder in the seven-game series between the Thunder and Grizzlies?

It wasn’t Zach Randolph.  It wasn’t Marc Gasol.

Despite OKC decisively winning the battle of the glass (+5 Reb/game), Serge Ibaka only pulled down 9 boards/game.

The best rebounder in the series was Thunder guard Russell Westbrook with 10 rebs/game.

Oddly, the man preventing Memphis from getting absolutely blasted on the backboard was guard Tony Allen.  He tied Russ for the offensive rebounding lead in the series with 23.

The OKC Thunder’s New Asset

Not to take anything away from OKC’s star point guard Russell Westbrook but the team has been really good in his absence.  Obviously Kevin Durant having 100% control of the squad plays a big factor in their success.

Let’s also credit the more than steady play of backup point Reggie Jackson.  He has started all 18 games since Westbrook went down and scored 15 points/night.  His 5 assists and 2.5 turnovers per game are very good for a second string player.  Throw in 4 rebounds and we have a Thunder team that has gone 13-5 with the former Boston College star running point.

How I Love My Wizards, and John Wall

The Washington Wizards are my team to watch for the next 3 years.  The next OKC Thunder.

This season, point guard John Wall is posting a career high for scoring at nearly 20 points/36 minutes.

He ranks above some big names in scoring…

Totals

Player

Tm

G

TS%

PTS

Russell Westbrook

OKC

74

.531

23.6

Tony Parker

SAS

62

.593

22.7

Stephen Curry

GSW

70

.587

21.3

John Wall

WAS

41

.528

19.7

Nate Robinson

CHI

73

.538

18.3

Chris Paul

LAC

63

.596

18.2

Kemba Walker

CHA

74

.516

18.2

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/3/2013.

The Old School OKC Thunder

What made the Utah Jazz teams of John Stockton and Karl Malone so great?  They were consistently fouled a lot and converted a high percentage of their free throws.

Observe the highest singles season team Free Throws/Field Goal Attempts in the 3-point era:

Team

Opponent

Rk

Season

Tm

W-L%

FT/FGA

FT/FGA

1

1997-98

UTA*

.756

0.334

0.271

2

1984-85

PHI*

.707

0.331

0.259

3

1989-90

GSW

.451

0.321

0.253

4

1998-99

UTA*

.740

0.320

0.242

5

1988-89

UTA*

.622

0.320

0.246

6

1986-87

POR*

.598

0.313

0.265

7

1981-82

DEN*

.561

0.310

0.213

8

1987-88

PHI

.439

0.308

0.232

9

1994-95

UTA*

.732

0.306

0.292

The Jazz own 4 of the 9 highest free throw rates during the 3-point era.  Karl Malone himself made more free throws than anyone in NBA history.  The Mailman led the league in FTM a record eight seasons.  Former Jazz teammate Adrian Dantley is second on this list.  A.D. led the NBA in FTM five times.

All these made free throws were what really helped Jerry Sloan‘s team win all those games.  Utah posted winning percentages of at least 62% each of the four super free throw seasons.

There has been a general decline in free throw rates since the late 90’s.  Here are the highest FTM/FGA rates since the 1999 Jazz:

Team

Opponent

Rk

Season

Tm

W-L%

FT/FGA

FT/FGA

1

2005-06

NYK

.280

0.303

0.294

2

2010-11

OKC*

.671

0.299

0.228

3

1999-00

DET*

.512

0.295

0.249

4

2001-02

UTA*

.537

0.291

0.286

5

2008-09

DEN*

.659

0.290

0.259

6

2009-10

DEN*

.646

0.290

0.251

7

2006-07

SAC

.402

0.289

0.240

8

2012-13

OKC

.742

0.286

0.201

Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original TableGenerated 3/16/2013.

Notice the massive differentials in free throws the Oklahoma City Thunder have been taking advantage of two of the last three seasons.  Kevin Durant is leading the league in made free throws for the 4th straight season.  Teammate Russell Westbrook has ranked in the top-5 NBA wide in free throws made three years running.

The 2013 version of the Thunder are shooting a sparkling 83% from the foul line.  Only the 1990 Boston Celtics and 2003 Dallas Mavericks have shot 83% for a full season in the history of the NBA.

One last random note.  The team with the highest FT/FGA since the turn of the century is Larry Brown‘s terrible ’06 Knickerbocker team.  They were the worst team in the eastern conference despite having an awesome free throw rate.  Center Eddy Curry led the team in free throws and posted a superb .514 FT/FGA rate.  Among NBA players in 2006 Curry ranked 29th in free throws made but 129th in field goal attempts.  That’s getting to the line!