2013-14 Season: Oklahoma City Thunder weekly grades for November 30 - December 6

The Thunder had a bumpy ride this past week, but still managed a 3-1 record. How did each individual player do?

The Thunder faced 3 potential playoff teams this week and went 2-1 against them, but oh how that 1 loss hurt. The positive is that OKC was able to gain a measure of revenge against the Timberwolves, but after a rocky showing against the Kings they could not put away the West-leading Trail Blazers. The Thunder ended the week well with a solid win over the Pelicans, but that Blazers loss still lingers.

Here is how each Thunder player performed as the team went 3-1 overall.

Game 1: Thunder finish road stand with 113-103 win over Timberwolves

Game 2: Thunder eek by Kings, 97-95

Game 3: Thunder cannot close the deal against Trail Blazers, fall 111-104

Game 4: Thunder get back on winning trail, down Pelicans 109-95

***

KEVIN DURANT

30.3 PPG 9.0 REB 4.8 AST 2.5 BL 2.3 ST 2.3 TO (-5.3 +/-)


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_b_medium
I'm not going to hold the Nicolas Batum dagger three against Kevin Durant this week, so that's not why he gets a B. He was phenomenal against the Timberwolves with his historic triple-double. The other games, however, were pretty subpar. Durant has shown poor shooting in plenty of games this season and that must improve. He was active on the boards, recording more than 10 in 2 games this week. If he just cleans up his shooting percentage, he'll get his A again.
Sherman Grade_b_medium Kevin Durant won both NBA Player of the Week and Player of the Month this past week. So why did I feel like his play left something to be desired, and what does that say about how much higher Durant's ceiling is over everyone else in the West? The Wolves game aside and with the Pelicans win bearing an asterisk, I really didn't like the way Durant played against the Kings, and his defensive breakdowns vs the Blazers, throughout the 4th quarter were spotty.

RUSSELL WESTBROOK

20.0 PPG 3.5 REB 5.3 AST 0.3 BL 2.0 ST 3.8 TO (-3.0 +/-)


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_cplus_medium
Russell Westbrook only shot 50% from the field one time this week. He also failed to record more than 7 assists in any game this week, and the 7 he recorded was against the Kings, in which was his best game this week. Westbrook needs to be more effective and he needs to be more of a facilitator to get a better grade.
Sherman Grade_bminus_medium Westbrook's presence on the court always means something, and I really liked the way that he was aggressive against Damian Lillard of the Trail Blazers. That said, Westbrook's posture toward just about everything else with the exception of the Pelicans game was sometimes detrimental. Westbrook isn't finishing at the rim well, and when he isn't doing that, he doesn't get the same level of respect from the defense to pop off his free throw jumper. On top of that, I'm never, ever going to be comfortable with Russ taking more than about three 3's per game.

SERGE IBAKA

14.5 PPG 10.0 REB 0.8 AST 2.8 BL0.3  ST 2.3 TO (-0.5 +/-)


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_b_medium Serge Ibaka has been on a shooting tear this season, but this week he showed some signs of cooling a bit. Much like Westbrook, he failed to go over 50% shooting in any game this season. His rebounding and shot blocking was good this week, but we've been a little spoiled with his stellar play to start the season.
Sherman Grade_bminus_medium Critics will point to what LaMarcus Aldridge did to Ibaka and automatically fail him, but I ask you, what player in the NBA could have stopped such an offensive barrage? LMA was knocking down 20 foot fadeaways with a hand in his face. It was just his moment. No, what bothered me more was Ibaka's weaker effort on the defensive glass in the 2nd half of that game, which enabled Portland to get a number of extra chances at the rim. Outside of that game, Ibaka keeps plugging along as one of the most balanced PF's in the game.

THABO SEFOLOSHA

4.0 PPG 3.0 REB 1.0 AST 0.5 BL 2.0 ST 3.8 TO (-3.0 +/-)


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_dplus_medium
Thabo Sefolosha had a bad week. His game is judged on what he does defensively, not offensively. With that being said, his defense was missing this week and that's why he gets this grade. The fact that he averaged almost 4 turnovers a game offensively, doesn't help either.
Sherman Grade_cminus_medium
Thabo Sefolosha keeps slipping in big game moments and I'm not sure what to do with him. He's one of the Thunder's defensive specialists, yet he is often on the court in the beginnings of games when OKC struggles the most on defense. On the other end of the court, Sefolosha has taken only a single 3-pointer in December so far. This means that Thabo is essentially a non-factor on offense. Scott Brooks needs to figure out what to do with Thabo too, because at this kind of production and defensive inefficiency, it is more and more difficult to justify minutes to Sefolosha.

KENDRICK PERKINS

2.3 PPG 2.3 REB 1.3 AST 0.8 BL 0.5 ST 1.3 TO (-8.3 +/-)


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_cplus_medium
Kendrick Perkins hasn't been terrible, but he hasn't been good either. His stats alone do not match with his salary. I think I speak for everyone, though, that as long as he isn't costing games, he's alright.
Sherman Grade_b_medium
I'd give Kendrick Perkins a half a letter grade for that ridiculous running hook shot alone. Perk's numbers continue to look like an eye sore and he's still missing easy catches down low that cost his team points, but I think his performance still justifies getting minutes as the starter. His effort against the Timberwolves front line was solid and still serves notice that Perk has a place to play in OKC.

STEVEN ADAMS

2.5 PPG 4.3 REB 0.5 AST 0.0 BL 0.3 ST 0.5 TO (-1.3 +/-)


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_cplus_medium I don't know if the love fest with Steven Adams has come to an end, but his play has been pretty solid. He hasn't showed the amazing moments he provided earlier in the season and pre-season, but the competition he's gone against has made it tough to do so. He'll be okay.
Sherman Grade_cplus_medium
Steven Adams did not get much opportunity to play this past week, as he was facing either a fast line-up or was getting hammered by Nikola Pekovic. He continues to pick up a lot of cheap fouls too and responds with a genuine, "What did I do?" He needs to work on cleaning that up so that Brooks needs a better reason to keep him out of games rather than basic foul trouble. On the other hand, THIS. That was like Randy Moss pulling in a deep post from Tom Brady.

JEREMY LAMB

8.8 PPG 2.0 REB 1.3 AST 0.5 BL 0.3 ST 1.3 TO (6.0 +/-)


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_bminus_medium Jeremy Lamb still has been the best surprise this season, as his role in the rotation is pretty much set. He has shown improvement in his shot selection, and he is playing with extreme confident, which people believed he lacked earlier in the season. This week wasn't his best, but it was still really solid. As good as he's been, he still hasn't had his one big game.
Sherman Grade_b_medium
Jeremy Lamb continues to establish himself as a key player in Thunder rotations, and is getting more and more opportunities late in games. His shooting percentage remains strong and he only looks for good shot attempts, which has held his 3-point shooting right around 40%. I'm still waiting for a breakout 3-point game where he knocks down 5-6; I feel it is coming. On the other end though, Lamb needs to be less aggressive with his defense while playing in open space, as he's begun to pick up a lot of cheap fouls.

NICK COLLISON

5.5 PPG 3.8 REB 0.8 AST 0.8 BL 0.0 ST 1.3 TO (13.5 +/-)


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_b_medium Nick Collison shared the lead for +/- this week for the Thunder and that gives him a bump from his usual C grade I give him. He's still the man.
Sherman Grade_b_medium Steady as she goes. Collison is tied with the guy below for the top +/- on the team, even as he has struggled with getting his shot to fall. Let me be on the record as well that I'm not a fan of the Collison corner-3 play. He is now 1-6 on the season and every time he hoists one I think that the Thunder are wasting his best attributes in the offensive set.

REGGIE JACKSON

13.5 PPG 3.8 REB 3.3 AST 0.3 BL 0.5 ST 1.5 TO (13.5 +/-)


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_bplus_medium Reggie Jackson tied with Nick Collison for +/- this week and that's no coincidence. I absolutely love the second unit of Jackson, Lamb and Collison because they pretty much run the show and display their ability to score. I don't mind the low assists numbers for Jackson because the second-unit has been really effective this season.
Sherman Grade_bplus_medium
Reggie Jackson continues to progress as an exceptional offensive player. He knows exactly to get what he wants, and he is not forcing the issue or trying to rack up a 20  point game when a 15 point game will suffice. That said, I'd like to see him work a little bit more to set other guys up instead of simply trying to take his own man off the dribble. We know he can finish well, but he needs to continue to improve his PnR game so that he can set up others as equally adeptly.

PERRY JONES III

1.0 PPG 1.0 REB 0.0 AST 0.0 BL 0.0 ST 0.0 TO (1.5 +/-)


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_c_medium Aside from  a nice put-back dunk this week, we really didn't see much from Perry Jones. A few more minutes would be nice for him, but I just don't see anybody else falling out of the rotation to accommodate that.
Sherman Grade_c_medium
It is a broken record at this point, but what you get out of Perry Jones is what you give him the opportunity to do. In limited action, PJIII provided energy, an offensive rebound, and a put-back. Hopefully his recent DNP's had more to do with factors outside of his control. I think he has a lot more to give than what we're seeing.

DEREK FISHER

3.0 PPG 1.3 REB 1.3 AST 0.0 BL 0.3 ST 0.0 TO (-5.3 +/-)


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_b_medium I'm going to give Derek Fisher a leadership grade here. He shows that he's always ready and he has a great presence in the locker room. He had that nice 4-point play this week, so that gets him a little boost, too.
Sherman Grade_bminus_medium
Once again, Fisher is giving OKC exactly what they need and adding things to the table without taking much off of it. He is only taking a few shots per game and his role is clearly defined. His big 4-point play against the Pelicans shocked us all, and not because he made it, but because his toe wasn't on the line.

HASHEEM THABEET

DNP


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_c_medium Hasheem Thabeet continues to log DNP's so we don't really have anything on him, except his Wiz Khalifa looking hair.
Sherman Grade_bplus_medium
I give Hasheem Thabeet props this week, not for anything he did on the court, but for his voice in reflection on Nelson Mandela's passing.

ANDRE ROBERSON


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_cplus_medium Andre Roberson is now with the Tulsa 66ers and that is the best thing for him right now. He's started a couple games for the Thunder is plug-in duty, but it was clear he needed to mold his game more. Being in the D-League will help his skills and it'll help him and the Thunder moving forward.
Sherman Grade_a_medium
Andre Roberson was assigned to the Thunder's D-League team the Tulsa 66ers, and nobody was really shocked at this move because Roberson right now just needs to play. He isn't going to get meaningful minutes in OKC, and there are too many holes in his game to be a consistent contributor. By going to Tulsa, Roberson can work to develop his shooting and finishing skills while still focusing on his best attributes, which are defense and rebounding.

SCOTT BROOKS


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_b_medium Aside from some slow starts, especially against the Kings, Brooks did a good job with the team. His rotation is pretty much set in stone so he'll be judged in late-game situations and in-game adjustments. The team was able to rally against the Kings so it saved a 2-2 week and Brooks' grade would have been lower. The game against the Blazers was more of a Durant missed assignment than a bad call by Brooks.
Sherman Grade_b_medium
Scott Brooks led his team to a 3-1 record this past week, a solid mark against one elite team, two low level playoff contenders, and one lottery team. The biggest detriment to his team's play is that Brooks cannot seem to get them to start games well. They tend to rush on offense and give up too many open 3-pointers on defense, which has led to early deficits. He needs to get his players to be a bit more disciplined early on so that the starters can occasionally leave their bench with a lead to manage.

OVERALL THUNDER TEAM GRADE


Grade Comments
Juan Grade_aminus_medium
A 3-1 record is always accepted, but the Thunder showed they can play away from OKC. They lost a close one to the Blazers, and that still hurts, but they played some quality teams and prevailed. Even the Kings, who probably aren't a playoff team, still have a good home-crowd and the Thunder came away with a win, despite not playing their best and that's exactly what good teams do.
Sherman Grade_b_medium
Again, a 3-1 record is strong, especially since OKC had on the 2nd night of a back-to-back a) a double digit halftime lead against the West-leading Trail Blazers; b) a chance to win it at the end. It was frustrating that OKC could not hold on, but I think the loss uncovered some of the telltale signs that we've seen over the years. The Thunder can get careless and reckless with how they play and fall back too often on their elite natural talent. The Kings game was almost a disaster because of it, and hopefully a loss against a deserving Portland team will be enough to alert OKC that they need to play smarter in order to play better.
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