2013-14 Season: Oklahoma City Thunder weekly grades for December 29 - January 4

The Thunder endured a frustrating week, going 2-2. How did each player do?

What an interesting beginning and end to this week. The Thunder went 2-2, but sandwiched in between two vintage Kevin Durant games were a whole lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth as OKC dropped consecutive games on their home court for the first time in 2 seasons. How did the individual players struggle, and who stepped up?

Game 1: Thunder rout Rockets, 117-86

Game 2: Thunder blow late game lead to Trail Blazers, fall at home 98-94

Game 3: Thunder blog late game lead again to Nets, fall 95-93

Game 4: Thunder flip the script, come back on Timberwolves 115-111

***

Durant_medium

KEVIN DURANT Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 35.5 9.5 4.8 1.0 1.0 2.8 3.3
JUAN Grade_a_medium It's hard to fault Kevin Durant for the two fourth-quarter collapses, but as the leader and unquestionably best player on the team, the responsibility lays on his shoulder. However, his numbers this week were outstanding for a guy getting most, if not all the attention from opposing teams. His performance against the Timberwolves made everyone forget the two really bad fourth quarter losses.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium Kevin Durant had a tough week, as once again he finds himself as the primary offensive focal point for his team's championship hopes. He was solid if unspectacular against the Trail Blazers and Nets, but most critically he disappeared in the 4th quarters. Not so vs the Timberwolves, and his season-high 48 points, which came within the context of a come from behind win and the halting of a 2 game slide, earn Durant high honors.

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 n/a
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium
I'll give Russell Westbrook a B+ because during his first week out, we can all see how valuable he really is. Not only against a good team, but against the subpar ones, too.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
Russell Westbrook was out for his first full week during his rehab, but he still made his presence known. He was still visiting the locker room, and based on various reports appears to be moving well. Also, he made the trip to Minnesota to take in a crucial win over the Wolves, all the while looking pretty darn sharp.
Sefolosha_medium

THABO SEFOLOSHA Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 7.5 2.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 7.0
JUAN Grade_cminus_medium
Thabo Sefolosha shot 25% from downtown this week and that simply doesn't help the Thunder. Yeah, he plays really good defense, but with Westbrook out, the Thunder need to find all the points they can get. Sefolosha needs to do a better job on offense and just continue what he does on defense.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium
Thabo Sefolosha came back to earth a bit this past week. It's not that he wasn't active on both ends of the court, but he seems to still be at a regressed state from where he was last season. It's great that Thabo has worked on his ball handling, mid-range jumper, etc. However, what he needs to give the team is 3-point shooting, and over the last week he only shot 3-12.

Ibaka_medium

SERGE IBAKA Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 11.8 5.8 0.5 1.8 1.0 2.0 0.5
JUAN Grade_bminus_medium
It's obvious that Serge Ibaka needs Russell Westbrook for a lot of his points and I'm not sure how that's going to come by with him sidelined, but the biggest concern is his rebounding. Yes, Perkins had a good week rebounding the ball, but Ibaka still needs to do his part in that department. The only good thing is that no matter who's on the floor, "Iblocka" is still gonna get his blocks.
SHERMAN Grade_cplus_medium
We all knew that Serge Ibaka's numbers would drop off after Westbrook was sidelined, but it is still jarring to see how dependent he was on Russ on offense. Which is not to say that Serge isn't working hard, but there is a big difference when All-Stars are helping you get space to work. More alarming to me is how his rebounding has really tailed off. The Thunder are still a great rebounding team, but I'd like to see a higher percentage of them come from their PF and not their guards.
Perk_medium

KENDRICK PERKINS Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 3.0 6.5 1.0 1.0 0.5 1.3 3.3
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium
I think Kendrick Perkins had a really good week for the team. Despite getting featured in the offense a little more, he didn't turn the ball over too much and was fun to watch, mostly in a hilarious way. His rebounding was much improved and you can see him being active. The only, and what could have been a HUGE blunder, was the foul on that Kevin Love jumper. Luckily for Perk and Thunder fans, Love missed all his free-throws.
SHERMAN Grade_bminus_medium
Kendrick Perkins had a weird week. On the one hand, I cringed seeing him rolled out in a lineup where he was responsible for producing offense, and yet as awkward as he looked, it wasn't that terrible. Perk is used for his defense, and for 3 games, the team defense was very good. His foul on Kevin Love's last second 3-point attempt though? Come on, now.

Jackson_medium

REGGIE JACKSON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 11.8 4.3 5.8 0.0 0.3 2.3 3.3
JUAN Grade_cminus_medium Sherman is going to be a little tougher on Reggie Jackson this week than am I, and it's just because it's just the first week with Westbrook sidelined. Yes, Jackson was really bad down the stretch and caused the Thunder losses, but I want to see Reggie play off the ball a little more down the stretch, it will reduce some of the pressure on young Reggie Jackson. If the struggle continues next week, his grade will be a lot lower than this, though.
SHERMAN Grade_d_medium
This grade may seem unduly harsh on young Reggie Jackson, but from what I saw, I place a lot of the burden on him for how the Thunder struggled in the 4th quarters this past week. This is what the starting PG job is - you have to figure out a way to get your producers open for good shots, and in those two losses, he wasn't doing that. On top of that, his body language has been poor as he looks notably frustrated at times. Your on-court leader has to be a source of encouragement, not despair.
Lamb_medium
JEREMY LAMB Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 12.5 5.5 2.8 0.5 1.3 2.0 8.8
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium I loved how active Jeremy Lamb was this week. He seemed poised and played like it when he got his name called. Lamb is showing a lot of great signs this season and that's really good news for this team.
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium
Jeremy Lamb might get remembered most for his regrettable plays in the loss to the Nets, where he had two quarter-end plays that worked against the Thunder and contributed to the loss. However, I was really impressed with how he handled himself down the stretch, especially vs the Wolves where he was snagging rebounds and scoring clutch points. Mostly, I really like the fact that he plays like he belongs on the court along side Durant.

Adams_medium

STEVEN ADAMS Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 6.8 3.5 1.0 0.5 0.5 2.0 -0.3
JUAN Grade_a_medium
Nikola Pekovic wanted no part of Steven Adams on Saturday night. Before his injury, Adams was controlling the paint, against a really big front-line and had most fans drooling over his ceiling. I like the comparison Sherman is going to make in the comment below. Really nice week for Kiwi Strong and I hope to see some more of that moving forward.
SHERMAN Grade_aminus_medium
An unfortunate ankle injury curtailed Steven Adams' game against the Wolves, and that was unfortunate because I was really enjoying Kiwi Strong battle down low against tank-sized Nikola Pecovic. Pecovic is a pretty good indicator of what Adams' ceiling might be, and I mean that as a compliment. And a near double-double too in only 16 minutes. Let's see some more of that.
Collison_medium

NICK COLLISON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 4.0 3.8 1.0 0.3 0.5 0.8 6.5
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium Nick Collison needs to get a lot of minutes down the stretch as we saw in the Nets loss. Collison, however, stays solid and it's proven that the team plays harder when he's out on the court. It's contagious.
SHERMAN Grade_aminus_medium
Nick Collison's lack of minutes in the disheartening loss to the Nets was completely mystifying, especially since the Thunder offense was so disorganized in the 2nd half. Collison redeemed himself in Minnesota though as he was on the court during OKC's comeback run and made a crucial PnR bucket that kept OKC in the game.

Fisher_medium

DEREK FISHER Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 6.8 1.0 2.8 0.0 0.5 1.0 3.3
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium I think Derek Fisher did a nice job this week. Reggie Jackson struggled this week and as the backup point guard, he came in and gave some nice minutes. Now I leave you to Sherman's take, because it is absolutely beautiful.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
It is difficult for me to evaluate Derek Fisher this week because while his limitations were painfully apparent in the Thunder's losses, the problem is that Fisher has had to step up because Jackson has been so inconsistent. I'm starting to wonder if Fish should be in the starting role just to take some of the mental pressure off of RJ. Fisher played along side Kobe for a decade, so he likely wouldn't be bothered as much by the pressure. Gosh, I can't believe I'm even writing this.

Jones_medium

PERRY JONES III Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 4.8 1.3 0.5 0.3 0.3 0.3 5.3
JUAN Grade_cplus_medium
I love Perry Jones' game and I think he can ball, but he needs to find some consistency. If you look at the box scores, on some games he played like a good NBA player and in some games, he played like an NBA benchwarmer. He has to find that consistency to take the next step, in my opinion.
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium
A look at Perry Jones' stat sheet reveals a strange dichotomy. He was either producing a lot or producing nothing at all. He was the 2nd highest scorer vs the Nets, but in 2 of the games he nearly failed to record a single statistic. His minutes were likely the cause, as they bounced around as much as Jones does on the court. The important thing is that the team is trusting him to get those minutes now, and I hope that trust remains.

Roberson_medium

ANDRE ROBERSON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 1 0.0 2.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 7.0
JUAN Grade_c_medium We didn't see much of Andre Roberson this week, and we can expect that unless another injury hurts the team. I like Roberson and I think his time will come, hopefully not because of injury, though.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium Andre Roberson only got cleanup minutes during the blowout over the Rockets, so we can't really grade him on anything substantive. The one thing I hope the rookie is doing though is busting his tail in practice and challenging Durant on defense. It is the best way for Roberson to actually contribute to the team's success. He gets better, and he forces his teammates to get better too.

Thabeet_medium

HASHEEM THABEET Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 0 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
JUAN Grade_c_medium This is always my favorite grade of the week. Hasheem Thabeet looks like he belongs on the bench. One day I won't be surprised if he takes off his shoes and starts eating a Twizzler or something.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
As long as Hasheem Thabeet keeps rolling out this kind of material, I will be kind to him when it comes to grading.

Brooks_medium

SCOTT BROOKS Coaching Grade
JUAN Grade_c_medium I think the players should be held accountable more than the head coach, but Scott Brooks' offense fell through the cracks during some crucial parts. My biggest concern is trusting Kendrick Perkins too much in late game situations. I like Perk and I think he does a great job, but I think his "I hate everyone" mentality affects his decisions sometimes, and we got to see that with that dumb foul against Minnesota. Brooks has to play his top guys, whether they're young or old. I don't think he did that this week.
SHERMAN Grade_cminus_medium
For the first time this season I feel like Scott Brooks went through a stretch where you could point to a lot of places in the game and question his use of his personnel as well as game management. He bears some of the responsibility in OKC's back to back losses at home, particularly with how short the Thunder offense fell in 4th quarters. He's receiving heat on his reliance of his veterans Fisher and Perkins, so it will be interesting to see if those minutes get balanced out this week.

Thunder_medium

TEAM GRADE Record OffRtg DefRtg AstRatio REB% TS% PACE +/-
(Advanced Stats) 2-2 107.4 97.7 1.29 53.6% 59.2% 98.68 7.3
JUAN Grade_cplus_medium
The main reason I'm going low on this grade is because I feel the Thunder should have gone 4-0 this week and the fact they lost 2 games in the fourth-quarter against teams they should put away isn't good. Despite that, the team played their tails off and sometimes we forget they're missing a top-15 player in the lineup because of how good Durant is and how competitive the team remains. The next couple weeks will be just like this, the guys just have to find a way to grind these late games out, just how they did against the Timberwolves.
SHERMAN Grade_bminus_medium
I think that in the end, the Thunder's 2-2 week will not be remembered as frustrating as it feels right now. Even with Westbrook out, it felt like OKC had played well enough to go 4-0, and losing double digit 4th quarter leads is painful to watch. Hopefully these 2 losses will turn into lessons and not examples. Watching Durant nearly single-handedly halt the losing streak was a prize worth  waiting for though.

*All player images via US Presswire

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