Three games into the Oklahoma City Thunder's preseason schedule and the team has yet to turn in a decent 3-point shooting performance.
Yes, it is the preseason. But there are still questions surrounding the fact the ball isn't falling through the hoop.
Jeremy Lamb is the main focus after shooting .07 percent (1-13) from three-point range in the first three preseason games. However, Lamb is not the only one who hasn't sank anything from beyond the arc.
The team is a combined 22 percent (13-58) from long distance. Reggie Jackson is shooting just under 13 percent (1-8), Thabo Sefolosha is shooting 14 percent (1-7) and Derek Fisher and Andre Roberson are a combined 0-5. If you take away Kevin Durant's 47 percent (8-17), the Thunder are shooting just 12 percent (5-41) from deep.
Obviously 12 percent is not anywhere near what the Thunder are capable of, but it is time to start questioning if they will be the three-point shooting team they were a season ago.
Oklahoma City finished third in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage last season at just under 38 percent. Durant, Sefolosha and former sixth-man Kevin Martin each shot over 40 percent from three-point land and power forward Serge Ibaka even chipped in at 35 percent.
Losing a player like Martin never helps. The Thunder didn’t re-sign him in the offseason and now he will likely be a starter for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
With Martin out of the picture, the Thunder's makeup suggests that unless multiple players, not just Lamb, step up from long range, they will be a middle-of-the-road three-point shooting team.
Even if Lamb starts lighting it up at a 40 percent rate, it still won't be enough for the Thunder to develop into a top-5 three-point threat this season. Jackson has to step up and Sefolosha has to find the form he had a year ago. If not, the Thunder will be in trouble on multiple situations, including the drive-and-dish.
Once Westbrook returns, the Thunder will have two point guards that live to get to the bucket. This opens up the corner-three and multiple scoring options. Westbrook and Jackson's abilities will create the shots; the problem is, if Durant isn't the recipient of the open looks, who will be able to knock them down?
Let's say Lamb is the answer. Even if the second-year player from Connecticut finds his stroke, if Sefolosha and Jackson are unreliable, defenses will find a way to take away Lamb's open looks on the drive and dish. Teams will force him to the top-corner, where he will likely have to pump-fake or create off the dribble.
Now, let's say Lamb and Jackson step up and Sefolosha continues to develop his long-range shot. Then not only do the Thunder have more options, defenses will also have to focus on two or three shooters rather than just one. This leaves the corner three and other open looks for the taking. And it doesn’t have to be Durant taking them.
The preseason isn't painting this picture. In fact, it's painting the complete opposite.
Durant is the Thunder's only shooter knocking anything down right now. Lamb is struggling, and as Daily Thunder’s Royce Young points out, it’s probably because he’s thinking about it.
Sefolosha and Jackson are struggling as well.
Three games in, even if it is only the preseason, the team has to be disappointed with the direction their three-point shooting percentages are heading.
If Oklahoma City hopes to survive in a loaded Western Conference, things have to change from long range. And they have to rely on more than just one player to get it done.
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- WTLC Daily Loud Links for Thursday, October 17th, 2013
- J.A. Sherman talks Kevin Durant's progression on the Phil Naessens Show
- WTLC Daily Loud Links for Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
- 2013-2014 Pre-Season Game 3: Oklahoma City Thunder cruise past Denver Nuggets, 109-81