Thunder weekly grades: Russell Westbrook returns, but defense disappears

The Thunder fell to a 1-3 record following the All-Star break. What happened with each player?

The Thunder struggled to a 1-3 post All-Star break record, losing 3 games in a row at home in the process. What was most frustrating was that the Thunder defense, so good for the first 3 months (and with room to grow) forgot that the season was resuming and has all but disappeared in 4th quarters. Here is how each player has contributed to the rough stretch.

Game 1: Thunder start post All-Star push with humbling loss to Heat, 103-81

Game 2: Thunder can't match Clippers' offensive output, lose 125-117

Game 3: Thunder defense collapses as OKC loses to Cavaliers, 114-104

Game 4: Thunder vs Grizzlies

***

Durant_medium

KEVIN DURANT Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 33.8 6.8 6.8 0.3 1.8 4.3 -1.8
JUAN Grade_cplus_medium
I'm a little bit disappointed with Kevin Durant's play this week and that sounds crazy to say with the numbers posted above, but that's the world a superstar lives in. I would have liked to see Durant will his team, which was bad this week, to a couple more wins.
SHERMAN Grade_bminus_medium
Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Not that I think Kevin Durant's ego got artificially bloated or anything over the past few weeks as his game warped into the stratosphere, but when you hit that level and the pressure comes to sustain it, it can get a bit weary, and that's what I think we've seen from KD. He looks a little worn down, especially on the defensive end, which has helped precipitate OKC's weak defensive showings.

Westbrook_medium

RUSSELL WESTBROOK Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 18.0 3.8 5.8 0.0 1.8 2.8 -4.8
JUAN Grade_aminus_medium
This is a hard grade because Russell Westbrook is still out there finding his grove, and it's clear to see out there. Westbrook, though, has not lacked confidence and that's a great thing, considering he's had three surgeries. Once his timing and basketball shape follow his intensity, then we'll know when Russ is back to normal.
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium
It is unfair to give Russell Westbrook a fair grading since this is just the first 4 games back after missing the previous 27, and on top of it he's dealing with minute restriction that keeps him on the bench an extra 10 minutes. That said, I felt like his play vs the Grizzlies was the first one where he looked like he was in control. In control of his own actions (no bad shots or turnovers) and in control of his team down the stretch. It was Westbrook's calm hand that helped settle OKC down before they blew another 4th quarter. Watching him play intentionally at 3/4 speed is enticing, because you know it won't be long before he's riding the East Australian Current again.
Sefolosha_medium

THABO SEFOLOSHA Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 5.5 2.3 1.5 0.0 1.5 0.8 -12.5
JUAN Grade_cminus_medium First of all, I hope Thabo Sefolosha's calf strain isn't a lingering injury and he can be back to full force soon. Second of all, the defense this week was atrocious and Thabo was no exception, which is not a good thing considering that's the main reason why he's out on the court. If Sefolosha is going to struggle offensively, then he better bring it even harder on defense, or there just isn't a place for him on the court.
SHERMAN Grade_cminus_medium
Thabo Sefolosha had a tough week, which culminated in suffering a left calf strain during the win over the Grizzlies. Sefolosha makes his name as a defender, and the Thunder defense was first and foremost the biggest issue in their 3 home losses. To be sure, a defense doesn't fail behind one man, but given the importance of how Thabo sets the tone in covering shooters, OKC needs him to get healthy and get his intensity back to where it was before.

Ibaka_medium

SERGE IBAKA Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 16.5 9.0 0.8 2.5 0.0 2.0 -7.5
JUAN Grade_b_medium
Serge Ibaka has been spectacular for the most part of the season and these past couple of weeks, he's been solid, too. But it's hard for me to give anyone a pass for these last weeks, even if Ibaka was a bright spot in a couple of the losses.
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium
I'd really like to grade Serge Ibaka higher, because he has been really good during stretches over the past few games. He was outstanding against the Grizzlies on defense, and it almost seems like an afterthought that Ibaka was able to collect 16 points as well. He did however have some defensive lapses in the Cavaliers disaster, which has more to do with OKC's reactionary habits than anything. The next level for him on defense is to be able to dictate the flow of the defense the way Marc Gasol does.
Perk_medium

KENDRICK PERKINS Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 1 0.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 -12.0
JUAN Grade_c_medium I feel for Kendrick Perkins, I really do. I always think back of his ACL injury he suffered in the NBA Finals and I always get sad when he gets hurt. The Thunder are missing a big body and we'll see how the team manages against the bigger teams in the western conference. We'll see how the team adjusts without big Perk.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium
Kendrick Perkins suffered a groin injury during the Thunder's loss to the Heat and he is expected to be out up to 6 weeks. We're about to learn whether the Perkins naysayers are correct and that his defense and intangibles are overrated. Thus far, in giving up over 100 points in every game since his departure, the stats are on his side.

Jackson_medium

REGGIE JACKSON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 10.0 2.0 3.8 0.3 1.0 2.5 -1.8
JUAN Grade_c_medium Reggie Jackson is back as the backup point guard now, and he's going to have to get used to that role all over again. His production has decreased for a while now, but I think moving back into the second unit is going to help Jackson in the long run. Once he settles in again, I think we'll begin to see the Reggie Jackson from the beginning of the season.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium
Reggie Jackson is the player who is going to struggle the most now that Westbrook is back because he has to shift from being the lead point guard to working as the leader of the 2nd unit and an off-ball player during crunch time. I do think his customary role suits him the best, but it does take a change in mentality where Jackson needs to be an offensive attacker instead of a set-up man. He's frequently going to see the other team's 3rd best defender at the ends of games, so he needs to take advantage to a greater degree.
Lamb_medium
JEREMY LAMB Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 3.3 1.5 0.5 0.0 1.0 1.3 0.0
JUAN Grade_dminus_medium
I've been a huge supporter of Jeremy Lamb this season, and really since the Harden trade, and this week was hard to watch, or understand. His minutes were down, and when he was out on the court, he just didn't seem comfortable. Scott Brooks needs to have Jeremy Lamb be a key contributor in his rotation because he's too talented to just be sitting down on the bench.
SHERMAN Grade_d_medium
If Jackson is the guy who is going to struggle the most to adapt, Lamb is the guy who is going to materially suffer in his output, at least for the near term. He's had his minutes cut, and right now he's still trying to adjust in how he plays along side Jackson as the lead guard and of course Westbrook. As a result, his production has plummeted. I truly hope that Brooks has a plan in place to make sure Lamb keeps his head in the game, because he's too valuable in a lot of ways to simply become a bit role player.

Adams_medium

STEVEN ADAMS Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 3.0 3.8 0.0 1.0 0.3 0.8 -1.0
JUAN Grade_cplus_medium
I haven't been quite as sold on Steven Adams as maybe most of the Thunder fans, but it's his time to prove me, and everyone that thinks like me wrong. With Perkins out, Adams will be asked to deal with the bigger teams and he's going to have to be ready or the Thunder might be in trouble against those teams.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
Steven Adams' time to show his growth has arrived, now that Perkins is out for a while. It might be fortunate for him that some of the first big men he has faced are DeAndre Jordan and Marc Gasol, two very good but very different kinds of players. Although he was duped a few times, I was impressed with how Adams held his own against Gasol. Gasol did produce on offense, but he did not dominate, and that was a big reason why OKC came out on top.
Collison_medium

NICK COLLISON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 3.0 4.5 1.3 0.5 0.3 1.3 -1.8
JUAN Grade_c_medium Hopefully Nick Collison's minute reduction is due to the fact that the coaching staff wants to have him fresh for the playoffs because I can't picture myself in a world where Collison is barely in the rotation. The team might need him a bit more now with the loss of Kendrick Perkins for the next 6 weeks.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium
Nick Collison's minutes continue to be pared down. I'm not sure if Brooks is trying to preserve him, but by my eyes, Nick does look to be slowing down a bit. He's 33 years old, and sometimes we forget that because he's been so efficient for so long. Where it has manifested most though is that his mid-range jumper, once a sure thing, has disappeared on him and so Collison's primary production is coming off of put-backs and pick and roll plays.

Fisher_medium

DEREK FISHER Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 7.0 1.5 0.8 0.0 1.3 0.5 -4.0
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium I saw a picture in my friend's twitter account (which I can't find now) of him training with Derek Fisher last year and he was actually bigger than he is now (!!). But, as his basketball play goes, he's been so good all year long.
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium
Old Man Fisher continues to roll on in his old man ways. In a day and age where really his only contemporaries age-wise are Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, his physical state (yeah, that was Fish working to D-up Blake Griffin) continues to be impressive as both Kobe and Nash have the end racing at them like a road barricade. As an aside, I'd definitely encourage you to check out the real time Grantland documentary, "The Finish Line."

Jones_medium

PERRY JONES III Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 3.8 2.3 0.3 0.0 0.5 0.5 -1.8
JUAN Grade_b_medium Perry Jones is another guy who the Thunder just need him to stay ready. Scott Brooks has shown a lot of trust in him at times this year against top guys in the league and Jones has hung in there as much as he could. The team needs him ready if those situations happen again.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium Perry Jones is going to see his minutes cut down too now that Westbrook is back, so PJIII needs to approach each game thinking, "I get 10 minutes tonight...how can I help the team in those 10 minutes?" He struggled defensively against the Heat, but against the Grizzlies he checked in, Durant set him up for a 3-pointer, and Jones buried it. I love that.

Roberson_medium

ANDRE ROBERSON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 -4.0
JUAN Grade_c_medium Andre Roberson has done everything management has asked him to do. Maybe he'll get more burn if Sefolosha is out longer than expected, but he'll just have to stay ready regardless.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium Andre Roberson did not get any meaningful action these past few games, and it is difficult to see how he will see any barring extended downtime for Sefolosha. Now is his time to sit back, learn, and try to help his team off the court.

Thabeet_medium

HASHEEM THABEET Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 1 2.0 4.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 0.0 -4.0
JUAN Grade_aminus_medium
Hasheem Thabeet played meaningful minutes. I repeat, Hasheem Thabeet played meaningful minutes. You wanna know the crazy thing? He played really well. I don't live in Oklahoma, so can any of you tell me if there was a full moon or something?
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium
I spy Hasheem the Dream, and it is not in mop-up duty AND he played meaningful minutes against a good front line! While Thabeet's abilities are always going to fall short of his massive stature, I appreciated the energy he brought against the Grizzlies in grabbing rebounds and blocking shots. It meant something too, because his teammates were as excited about it as he was.

Brooks_medium

SCOTT BROOKS Coaching Grade
JUAN Grade_d_medium
Scott Brooks needs to have his guys ready to play against the bad teams. Cleveland has been playing much better basketball as of late, but that's still a game that needs to be won. Losing 3 straight home games is unacceptable and the rotation could use some changes. It's tough for Brooks because the return of Westbrook gives him another guy that needs to play a ton of minutes, but he's going to have to make it work.
SHERMAN Grade_dplus_medium
Probably harsh, but when the Thunder failed to get up and get focused against two teams that they could face deep in the playoffs, then fall apart against an undermanned potential lottery team, you have to start at the top. Yes, the players play, but the coach's job is to convince them that a maximum effort is necessary in order to win, and that is not what we saw in a number of 4th quarters during this stretch.

Thunder_medium

TEAM GRADE Record OffRtg DefRtg AstRatio REB% TS% PACE +/-
(Advanced Stats) 1-3 106.3 114.0 16.3 49.2% 56.2% 98.01 -8.5
JUAN Grade_d_medium Might have been the Thunder's worst defensive stretch of the entire season. The team got Westbrook back and instead of being motivated to play harder, I think the team lessened their intensity. Westbrook is still getting his timing back, but that's not an excuse with a team this talented. The Thunder need to battle through injuries now and better clamp down on defense if they want to have a good seed in the tough western conference.
SHERMAN Grade_dplus_medium That Cavaliers loss is what really pushes the team grade down, but the defensive effort all around is what keeps it there. A 2-2 record in a stretch involving the Heat and Clippers is not a terrible thing, but the way that the defense appeared so lethargic and inept was frustrating. We KNOW that it is a lot better than we saw; a top 5 defense doesn't morph into a bottom 5 defense unless a lot of guys are doing a lot of little things wrong. It all culminated in a poor offensive team putting up 42 points in the 4th quarter to bring things full tilt. Hopefully the win over the Grizz is the point of turning it around.

*All player images via US Presswire

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Welcome to Loud City

You must be a member of Welcome to Loud City to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Welcome to Loud City. You should read them.

Join Welcome to Loud City

You must be a member of Welcome to Loud City to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Welcome to Loud City. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker