Oklahoma City Thunder player grades; what an abysmal week

The Thunder wobbled to a 2-2 record this past week in what is supposed to be the easier part of the season. What happened with their players?

The Thunder experienced an up and down week. In a bizarre sequence of games, they dominated the Celtics, sleepwalked through Jazz and Nugget losses, and then finally woke up in the 2nd half against the Bucks. Which players contributed, and which players hindered the Thunder effort?

Game 1: Thunder pound Celtics at home, 119-96

Game 2: Thunder play without Ibaka, lose ugly to Utah Jazz, 112-101

Game 3: Thunder embarrassed by Nuggets, 101-88

Game 4: Thunder sweat out a win over Bucks, 101-85

***

Durant_medium

KEVIN DURANT Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 33.0 6.8 6.0 0.8 2.3 1.0 3.8
JUAN Grade_a_medium
Kevin Durant did everything in his power to try and keep the Thunder competitive in games. He took a million shots, but nobody would be against that if you actually watched the other players on the court. The return of Russell Westbrook can't come soon enough.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium
As amazing as Kevin Durant's Superman-like game against the Timberwolves was last week, I worried that he might feel like that's the way he has to play all the time in order for OKC to win. In turn, he tried to replicate it to mixed results. No player can do every thing at every time and win against competent teams. As eye-popping as his stats above are, for the long term Durant would do well to back off the gas a bit like he did against Boston and trust his teammates to sink or swim.

Westbrook_medium

RUSSELL WESTBROOK Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 0 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a +1000
JUAN Grade_aminus_medium
I'm giving Russell Westbrook this grade because of the difference he makes to this team. I know Durant would give him an A+ if he could.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
I give Russell Westbrook a solid grade simply for being on the sidelines with his team and most importantly flying to Denver to encourage his team against the Nuggets. We know he's not a fan of Denver, so for him to make that trip and encourage his young teammates even as they were getting blown out says a lot about Westbrook's leadership.
Sefolosha_medium

THABO SEFOLOSHA Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 6.3 4.5 1.3 0.8 1.3 0.5 3.3
JUAN Grade_cminus_medium
Thabo Sefolosha had a rough week on both sides of the ball. Gordon Hayward lit him up (the whole team, really) and he was really struggling with his jump shot. Sefolosha needs to find a way to hit shots, especially if he's struggling on defense. Nobody can underestimate his importance to this team.
SHERMAN Grade_cplus_medium
I keep looking for signs from Thabo Sefolosha that he's turning it around, and apparently his teammates are too. Thabo took 16 shots vs the Bucks, and Durant in particular was working really hard to set him up for good looks. Thabo's last 3 in that game was a good moment, because after it fell Durant showed some emotion in congratulating him. KD knows that they need Thabo making shots, and they're working hard to keep him in the moment.

Ibaka_medium

SERGE IBAKA Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 14.0 12.7 1.3 2.7 0.0 1.3 9.3
JUAN Grade_b_medium
Serge Ibaka missed the Jazz game and they did whatever they wanted on the Thunder defense. Ibaka put up nice numbers this week when he suited up and it's hard to expect ridiculous scoring numbers from him with Westbrook out. He just has to continue helping out on the boards and keeping the Thunder in games with his defense. Not a bad week for Serge.
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium
Serge Ibaka's presence was most greatly felt when he sat out against the Jazz and the Thunder defense, one of the league's best, turned into Swiss cheese. Ibaka has grown as a complete defender, and OKC's team defense without their anchor was lost. He struggled with his shot against the Nuggets, but against the Bucks he was nearly as important as Durant, grabbing 17 rebounds to go along with his 17 points. I don't care if his shot disappears from time to time as long as we see that kind of activity from Serge.
Perk_medium

KENDRICK PERKINS Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 6.8 5.0 0.8 0.3 0.5 2.0 -0.5
JUAN Grade_c_medium
Kendrick Perkins has been a lot better as of late and fans seem to not hate him as much this season. I would give Perk a slightly higher grade if he ever smiled on the court. Is that too much to ask for?
SHERMAN Grade_bminus_medium
Is Kendrick Perkins playing better lately? It seems so, but there are still some times (like this one) when Perk looks so comically uncoordinated that you shudder when he receives a pass and looks to make a play. We really just need him to avoid fouling when he sets screens and to finish competently around the rim. That's really quite enough.

Jackson_medium

REGGIE JACKSON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 15.5 3.3 4.0 0.0 2.3 3.0 1.8
JUAN Grade_d_medium
After a slow week last week, Reggie Jackson started this week really well, setting scoring-highs in the process. But then, the rest of the week was awful. I think it may be time to insert Derek Fisher into the starting lineup and give Reggie his sixth-man spot back, which he seems to thrive in. After his insanely good start, these last two weeks have been really disappointing. Especially considering how much this team needed his game to elevate and not plummet.
SHERMAN Grade_d_medium
Whatever goodwill Reggie Jackson might have established with a career high performance against the Celtics was pitifully undone in his play against the Jazz, Nuggets, and Bucks. I don't even know how to explain Jackson's reticence but to say that now that he's being met by stiff challenges each game, he is stepping off instead of stepping up. Careful, Reggie. Brooks doesn't need much of a reason to hand your minutes to D-Fish. I can't help but think back to his statement earlier this season where he declared that he's ready to be a starter in this league. Evidence thus far speaks otherwise, so it is incumbent on Brooks to get Jackson back to doing what he does well.
Lamb_medium
JEREMY LAMB Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 10.5 2.8 2.3 1.0 0.8 1.0 4.5
JUAN Grade_cplus_medium
Jeremy Lamb, like most of the Thunder players, had an up-and-down week. He's a young player and he'll have some of these weeks, which is why I'm not going to kill him on this grade. It just sucks that these weeks are coming during the absence of Russell Westbrook.
SHERMAN Grade_bminus_medium
I know that Jeremy Lamb had 2 of his worst shooting games of the season against the Jazz and Nuggets, but I still really liked how he kept his head in the game and was still working to contribute in other ways. With Jackson's offense going south, it becomes even more important that Lamb look for good shots to take. His +/- doesn't lie; when Lamb is on the court, he's making a positive impact and I'm glad Brooks is trusting him.

Adams_medium

STEVEN ADAMS Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 2.0 4.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.5 -3.0
JUAN Grade_bminus_medium
Steven Adams got a guy ejected with his brute style of play, that alone gets him a passing grade. His on-court performance wasn't too good, but it wasn't too bad, either.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
Notch another Kiwi Tech into Steven Adams' belt! Kiwi Strong essentially got Bucks center Larry Sanders ejected by being big and strong and not reacting when Sanders threw an elbow at Adams' head. The Thunder faced 2 teams this past week that like to go small, and as a result Adams did not get as many minutes as he had been accustomed to. I get a little discouraged when he only gets garbage minutes, but I guess that it's better than no minutes. He's still doing a good job running PnR's and finishing at the rim with either hand. Let's see some more of that, especially with Jackson and Lamb.
Collison_medium

NICK COLLISON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 5.0 3.3 1.3 0.0 0.0 0.5 -3.0
JUAN Grade_cplus_medium
-3 +/- for Nick Collison this week. If that doesn't make you want to forget about this week, I don't know what would. Collison also hit a three this week. Was there a full-moon the entire week or something?
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
If even +/- king Nick Collison finishes in the red, you know it's been a tough week for OKC. Collison contributed in all the normal ways that he does, and I have to think back to the Jazz game when Collison was the guy who hit a surprising but big 3-pointer to make a game of it when none had previously existed. Alas, OKC fell all over themselves in the end. I still prefer to not see Nick sitting in a corner waiting for a shot at a 3-pointer, but it is good to know that if called upon, he can sink that shot.

Fisher_medium

DEREK FISHER Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 8.0 3.5 2.0 0.0 0.5 1.3 3.3
JUAN Grade_a_medium
Derek Fisher performed like a true pro this week. The team was mostly awful this week and they needed something positive. That was Derek Fisher. D-Fish kept the Thunder from losing by 30 against Denver and really put some solid minutes every game. He scored the ball well and he didn't make many mistakes. I think it might be time to put him into the starting lineup if Reggie Jackson keeps struggling.
SHERMAN Grade_aminus_medium
Derek Fisher is once again called upon to help save the Thunder's season during this stretch without Westbrook. The downside is that Fisher has an upper limit as to what he can do at this stage in his career. He can't be a playmaker. He's going to miss open shots. He's going to pick up fouls because he doesn't have the athleticism to keep up. However, one thing that we will never see is a Fisher who doesn't play hard or shrink from a challenge. In a game the Thunder had to have against the Bucks, Fisher had a 10-4-5 and covered up a lot of what Jackson wasn't doing on Saturday night.

Jones_medium

PERRY JONES III Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 2.5 1.8 0.5 1.0 0.8 0.5 -1.8
JUAN Grade_c_medium
Much like Sherman is going to point out below me, Perry Jones has a lot of talent, but he's still finding his way in this league. If he ever finds it, he's going to be a really good player.
SHERMAN Grade_cminus_medium
When I watch Perry Jones, I am reminded of Paul George. While I'm not saying that PJIII is anywhere near what George is, what I see is a guy who has such an insane amount of athleticism but little clue on how to string it together for a number of games in a row. George was once maddenly inconsistent, looking like an NBA 1-st teamer one game and disappearing the next. Likewise, Jones can be on the court and do all the little things one game and then practically nothing the next. In this past week, he had a lot of "practically nothings." This is the next step for the 2nd year player - do the little things on a game to game basis.

Roberson_medium

ANDRE ROBERSON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 2.3 2.7 1.3 0.0 1.0 0.0 4.0
JUAN Grade_c_medium
Andre Roberson doesn't get many minutes, but when he does he comes in and plays at 1000 percent. He grabs rebounds from the guard spot and he is a pest on defense. He'll probably be alternating between Tulsa and the NBA the entire season.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium
Andre Roberson didn't get a lot of meaningful minutes this past week, but Brooks is keeping him on the Thunder bench instead of sending him to Tulsa, and that in and of itself is a victory for the young player. Perhaps it is even compelling Thabo Sefolosha to play a bit harder. His shot is still, well let's be charitable and call it 'inconsistent,' but whenever he's on the court, Roberson is still doing 2 things well - playing defense and grabbing rebounds.

Thabeet_medium

HASHEEM THABEET Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 1 2.0 2.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 4.0
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium
I shed a tear when Hasheem Thabeet hit a jump shot this week. It was just so beautiful.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
Hasheem Thabeet got to play in an actual game this week. On top of that, he was actively being set up by his teammates to get a bucket. Even better, he stepped out and dropped a face-up 12 footer. And there was much rejoicing!

Brooks_medium

SCOTT BROOKS Coaching Grade
JUAN Grade_d_medium
Scott Brooks needs to reinvent his lineups on a day-to-day basis, which is not an easy thing, but it's a thing he must figure out. Maybe he needs to find a different starting lineup or start playing some other guys a little bit more. Whatever the solution is, he has to figure it out. The Thunder can't keep dropping games to teams they are far superior to in talent. Westbrook or no Westbrook, they have to find ways and that starts with Scott Brooks.
SHERMAN Grade_dplus_medium
Scott Brooks' team faced 4 teams this past week and none of them had a winning record, and only came out with a 2-2 split. What more, none of them have what you'd call good defenses, yet OKC's offense was discombobulated in all but the win over the Celtics. What I look to the most is that there is an important bond that has to exist between a coach and his point guard. Furthermore, Brooks is a former PG, so he knows this. Yet he and Jackson are not on the same page, and it feels like Brooks is losing the 3rd year PG. Brooks has to figure out a way to get Jackson's head back in the game; this is potentially the biggest disconnect between the Thunder looking like winners and looking completely lost.

Thunder_medium

TEAM GRADE Record OffRtg DefRtg AstRatio REB% TS% PACE +/-
(Advanced Stats) 2-2 105.7 103.1 15.5 52.4% 51.9% 96.17 3.8
JUAN Grade_c_medium
The Thunder got pretty much dominated in their two losses and looked shaky for the most part of that Bucks game. Reggie Jackson looked awful, Thabo Sefolosha couldn't find his stroke and Serge Ibaka had to sit out a game. Kevin Durant is a superstar, but he's getting absolutely no help. Until that changes, the Thunder are going to struggle while trying to buy time until Westbrook gets back into the lineup.
SHERMAN Grade_cminus_medium
The Thunder get a few bonus points for routing the Celtics so handily, but for the most part this was a week to forget. The team practically no-showed against the Jazz and Nuggets, losing by double digits to 2 teams that did not have a winning record. Their energy was low, they played without point or purpose, and suffered 2 of the more demoralizing losses we've seen in the past few years. Let us hope that OKC can look at those games and realize that, if nothing else, they can always play with better defense, and this team playing involved defense is good enough to beat 75% of the competition out there.

*All player images via US Presswire

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