2013-14 Season: Oklahoma City Thunder weekly grades for November 11 - November 15

The Thunder suffered two gut-wrenching losses this week. Here is how each player performed in the process.

This past week has been a difficult one, as the Oklahoma City Thunder dropped back-to-back road games against Western Conference rivals. On Wednesday they lost Serge Ibaka and then lost to the Los Angeles Clippers. On Thursday they lost to the Golden State Warriors on a last second shot by Andre Iguodala.

It is time to take stock on how each Thunder member performed.

***

(all statistics are weekly splits)

KEVIN DURANT

26.5 PPG 6.5 REB 9.0 AST 1.0 ST 5.0 TO


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_b_medium
Kevin Durant gets paid like a superstar, so he's going to be judged as one. When you're playing two championship caliber teams on the road, you need your star player to flat out ball, and Durant just did not do that. Durant had 33 points and 10 assists against the Clippers and that is a really good game, but what happened against the Warriors shouldn't happen. Durant's body language was as bad as it's been in a really long time. Instead of pouting after every non-call, he could have guarded all the three's Golden State put up. Durant's got to lead his team to these road victories, role players only get you so far.
Sherman Grade_cplus_medium
I have to echo Juan's commentary above, and it goes beyond the fact that Durant is one of the highest paid players in the league. It is because he holds himself out as the leader of the team that he is held to high account. To Durant's credit, he wants this responsibility. What the Warriors loss showed us though is that when you're playing against a potential contender, a team's best player cannot have nights when he's just not into it. Durant has to soldier through and continue to set the tone for competitiveness.

RUSSELL WESTBROOK

25.0 PPG 6.5 REB 7.5 AST 2.5 ST 5.0 TO


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_aminus_medium
I'm going to give Russell Westbrook this grade because it was his first back-to-back games that he's played since returning from injury, but his actual performance on the court was about a B-. First of all, that shot Westbrook hit to give the Thunder the lead against the Warriors was the perfect example of the no. no. no. no. YES. I would have rather seen KD take that shot, but it went in so it's okay. Russ looked great on the latter game of the back-to-back and that's a great sign to him getting 100%
Sherman Grade_b_medium
Westbrook's basketball skills are starting to finally catch up with his competitiveness, and we are seeing the fruits of both Westbrook's rare talents and a continual growth in the skills of basketball. He is still having trouble finishing at the rim, but his shooting mechanics are much more polished than I had anticipated.  The big knock though is that Westbrook had 5 turnovers in each of the past two games, and those played a big role in OKC's defeats. Too often he is losing his footing or leaving the ball right in front of his defender; this tendency will likely improve, but for now it erodes the team's effectiveness.

SERGE IBAKA

20.0 PPG 7.5 REB 0.5 AST 1.5 BL 2.0 TO


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_a_medium Serge Ibaka might of been the best Thunder player of the week. He started the season in a slump, but he's on a terrific stretch right now. The only thing keeping him from getting an A+ is the ejection against the Clippers. Against a team like Los Angeles, you can't get caught up on that and Ibaka can't be clocking his fist like if this was a street brawl. Got to be smarter, especially when you're playing the way Ibaka is.
Sherman Grade_a_medium
Serge Ibaka is finally settling into his groove, and it is good that he is doing all of the things that OKC needs for him to do on a nightly basis. The biggest black mark on Ibaka's week is his untimely ejection, because it really derailed an all-star level performance. He is now making open shots with regularity, grabbing a ton of defensive boards, and is finally finishing at the rim in a way the Thunder require.

THABO SEFOLOSHA

8.0 PPG 6.0 REB 1.0 AST 0.5  BL 3.0 ST 2.0 TO


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_c_medium Thabo Sefolosha has looked weird to start the season. He's been struggling on the offensive end, but what's more concerning is his struggles on defense. I'm not sure what happened against Andre Iguodala on that last shot, but you have to force the ball away from the basket, and whether it was Sefolosha's fault or not, it was poor execution by the Thunder. Thabo, however, had 6 steals against the Clippers and had 9 rebounds and 9 points against Golden State, so maybe he's breaking out of his slump.
Sherman Grade_c_medium
Sefolosha's blown coverage on the final shot of the Warriors loss had echoes of Paul George's catastrophic defensive breakdown against LeBron James in game 1 of last year's ECF. He allowed himself to be taken out of the play and then showed little urgency to get back on top of Iguodala as the game winning shot was hoisted. Fortunately, the one positive is that Thabo finally got a few shots to fall, including a clutch 3-pointer that helped OKC get back into the game. Hopefully he is coming around.

STEVEN ADAMS

5.0 PPG 2.0 REB 0.0 AST 0.5 BL 1.0 TO


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_c_medium Steven Adams got introduced to the real life in the NBA. It's a small sample size, but I don't think he's ready to be an NBA starting center. He was late on a lot of rotations this week and needs to improve that. He will develop on his own, there's no need to rush him.
Sherman Grade_cplus_medium
Steven Adams finally got a taste of the hard life in having to deal with teams that are going to actively target his youthful inexperience. It is one thing to stand your ground against a rebuilding Pistons team. It is quite another to deal with faster, stronger, and more athletic power forwards and centers going over your back to grab offensive rebounds and score putbacks. The lessons are just starting.

JEREMY LAMB

4.5 PPG 1.0 REB 1.0 AST 0.5 ST 0.5 TO


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_dminus_medium
Jeremy Lamb is not James Harden, but he needs to play a lot better in big games. When Westbrook and Durant were out of the game early in the fourth quarter, Scott Brooks ran four straight plays for Lamb, and he failed to produce a single basket. Now, he's still young and he can still have a good season, but he had to be better against two elite teams for the Thunder to have a chance, and he didn't deliver. You also can't be held scoreless against the Clippers.
Sherman Grade_cminus_medium
There is a positive and a negative to Lamb's week so far. The positive is that he was involved in the offense and was looking for and taking good shots. These are the shots that he has to take and make. The negative is that he wasn't making a lot of those shots. Once again, we need him to show some assertiveness to draw contact and earn points at the FT line if he wants to take a step forward in his contribution.

NICK COLLISON

3.0 PPG 4.5 REB 0.0 AST 0.5 BL 0.5 TO


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_bminus_medium Every week you'll probably get the same review when it comes to Nick Collison and that's solid. You know what to expect from him and he works harder than most people on the court. I would have liked to see him a little more active against the Warriors, though.
Sherman Grade_bminus_medium
Collison struggled with some fouls this week, as the Clippers front line all but eliminated any semblance of a Thunder front line rotation. He is still the primary ball screener when he is on the court, and we hope that he continues to set a good example for Ibaka and Adams. Unfortunately Nick has had some trouble putting the ball in the basket, as he's been misfiring on jumpers and got stuffed at the rim a few times.

REGGIE JACKSON

10.5 PPG 4.0 REB 3.5 AST 0.5 ST 2.5 TO


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_b_medium Reggie Jackson had a nice week. He was a huge spark in the game against the Warriors when Durant was out with foul trouble and Westbrook was getting some rest. Jackson suffers from being out of control sometimes, but he'll learn how to control that over time.
Sherman Grade_b_medium
Jackson struggled mightily against the Clippers and their hyper-quick backup PG Darren Collison. In particular, Jackson was a bit too cute with the basketball late in the game and committed a costly turnover that prohibited a final comeback attempt. Kudos to him then for being the primary impetus behind OKC's comeback vs the Warriors. It appeared as if OKC was dead in the water until Jackson was the only one who showed some urgency, attacking the rim and creating plays. He is very dangerous when he plays along side Westbrook, and the team needs to remember that.

PERRY JONES III

3.5 PPG 0.5 REB 0.5 AST 0.5 BL 0.0 TO


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_b_medium Perry Jones III continues to be a pleasant surprise this season. He doesn't get many minutes, but he provides a spark whenever he's out there on the floor. Scott Brooks needs to try and find him some more minutes.
Sherman Grade_bplus_medium
Jones once again did positive things on the court, which is turning into something that is expected of him rather than a surprise. Gone is his tentativeness, and he is shooting the perimeter shot with confidence. I would still like to see him involved around the rim more, and he certainly deserved more minutes against the Clippers in that dreadful 3rd quarter.

DEREK FISHER

0.0 PPG 0.0 REB 0.0 AST 0.0 ST 2.0 TO


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_dminus_medium Honestly, I'm going to keep this short and sweet. As long as Derek Fisher gets meaningful minutes, he'll continue to get a low grade. Unless he drops a buzzer beater in .4 seconds.
Sherman Grade_d_medium
As written before, if you ask Fisher to do things that Fisher can do, you won't set yourself up for too much disappointment. Unfortunately, Fisher was asked to play critical minutes at the forward spot and he was quickly in water over his head. It is important to note that Fisher was in this role because the Thunder were shorthanded, so at the very least it appears that Brooks has finally figured out that Fisher has only so much to give.

HASHEEM THABEET

2.0 PPG 3.0 REB 0.0 AST 0.0 BL 0.0 ST 0.5 TO


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_f_medium
Hasheem Thabeet looked lost at times on the court. One play that comes to mind is him complaining about a flop in the middle of a play and the missed shot going out of bounds and the referees couldn't tell who it was off last so they jumped it up. Thabeet did not even make an attempt to win the tip. That type of effort gets him an F. His performance was also F worthy.
Sherman Grade_d_medium Hasheem Thabeet got his first minutes of action this week, which is probably the high point. With the Thunder stretched thin in L.A., Thabeet had to go against Griffin and Jordan, and he struggled mightily. He mishandled passes, blew layups, and committed unnecessary fouls. For him to be effective, these are basic things that he must be committed to doing correctly.

KENDRICK PERKINS


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_aplus_medium
First of all, my condolences go out to Kendrick Perkins and his family after the loss of his grandfather. Perkins missed both games this week, but his value was shown out there. Steven Adams isn't quite ready yet and Perkins can fill the void until he is.
Sherman Grade_aplus_medium Kendrick Perkins did not suit up this week as he was mourning the loss of his grandfather, so that alone deserves some acknowledgement for his dedication to his family. From a basketball standpoint, we have quickly become aware that Perkins is perhaps not as worthless as everyone thought, as OKC gave up 111 and 116 points without their defensive stalwart in the lineup.

OVERALL THUNDER TEAM GRADE


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_cplus_medium
Despite dropping both games to championship-contending teams, in my opinion, the Thunder were one Iguodala fadeaway buzzer beater from slipping both games on the road and almost winning in Oracle, which isn't an easy task. The Thunder showed some flaws, but 8 games into the season, it's not time to panic. They can look back at these games and know where to improve.
Sherman Grade_cminus_medium
Despite the two back to back losses against playoff teams, we did see some things which the Thunder can build on. They were not meaningless losses; in fact they revealed quite a bit about what the Thunder need to become if they are going to build a successful season. Now it is time to put the work in.
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