Weekly grades: Russell Westbrook falls, Kevin Durant rises; who else stepped up?

This past week, we saw Kevin Durant putting a lock on the MVP award while Westbrook got only spot duty. Who else stepped up?

The Oklahoma City Thunder went 3-1 this week with wins over the Bulls, Cavaliers, and Raptors, while dropping the first game of the week to the Mavericks. Here is how each player contributed!

Game 1: Thunder blown out at home by Mavericks, 109-86

Game 2: Thunder redeem themselves in Chicago, win 97-85

Game 3: Thunder avoid collapse, beat Cavaliers 102-95

Game 4: Durant rises as Westbrook falls, OKC beats Raptors in 2OT 119-118

***

Durant_medium

KEVIN DURANT Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 37.8 9.8 5.5 0.8 0.3 2.5 +5.5
JUAN Grade_a_medium Kevin Durant was referred to as "Jesus" by Raptors players and that's pretty incredible. Durant averaged close to 38-10 this week and hit a dagger in Canada in the process. With the way that the Miami Heat are playing, I think it's getting close to that time of year where Durant is a shoe-in for his first MVP trophy.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium
Kevin Durant keeps on cranking out amazing games in this amazing season of his. With his team in consistent disarray from losing teammates to injury, shuffling lineups, and bizarre inattention to defense, he keeps putting up Jordan-like levels of output, and often times, it feels like he didn't even hit his personal apex. If Durant had an even average first half against the Raptors or made some more free throws, he would have broken the 60 point barrier with ease. Even more remarkable, his PER remains over 30, as KD continues to grab rebounds and distribute the ball at an astounding rate. His 51 point game vs the Raptors, given all that surrounded the moment, may have locked up his first MVP.

Westbrook_medium

RUSSELL WESTBROOK Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 2 16.0 6.0 5.0 0.0 0.5 2.5 +12.0
JUAN Grade_aminus_medium
The biggest reason why I'm giving Russell Westbrook an A- is because he's not going to miss extensive time after his injury and that's great. I'm sure you all had the same reaction as I did once he went back to the locker room and that was just sigh and hope for the best. He practiced on Sunday and should be good to go.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium It is difficult to give Russell Westbrook any meaningful sort of grade because a) he keeps getting benched during back-to-backs; and b) all everyone really is thinking about is whether he is ok after spraining his knee in Toronto. His health is the only thing that matters, and I'll leave it at that.
Sefolosha_medium

THABO SEFOLOSHA 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 I miss you, Thabo. The good thing is, the Thunder aren't playing half bad while he recovers.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium
I wonder what Thabo Sefolosha does during his time off. Ice fishing, maybe?

Ibaka_medium

SERGE IBAKA Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 15.8 6.5 1.3 1.8 0.0 1.3 +6.5
JUAN Grade_bminus_medium A little bit of inconsistency this week for Serge Ibaka. He played a magnificent game against the Cavaliers, but struggled against Toronto. I want to see the Ibaka from the Cleveland game against better competition.
SHERMAN Grade_bminus_medium
Serge Ibaka struggled with his shot a bit this past week, shooting under 50% and missing a lot of those open jumpers that he tends to feast on, especially out of the high PnR. He also had a really tough time in Toronto, as Amir Johnson took him to school on the low block. That said, his effort against the Cavaliers was huge, as he nearly single-handedly dominated the paint and shut down the Cavs' final bid at recovery.
Perk_medium

KENDRICK PERKINS 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 If you don't follow Kendrick Perkins on Twitter, you probably should start doing so.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium Kendrick Perkins has to be happy at the slow improvement of the Thunder defensive interior. While there are still breakdowns, it is showing signs of strengthening.

Jackson_medium

REGGIE JACKSON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 15.5 6.3 3.8 0.5 0.5 2.5 -0.3
JUAN Grade_aminus_medium Earlier this season, all we could do was praise Reggie Jackson for his play, and deservingly so. On Friday, he reminded us why he liked playing all those minutes with the starting crew. Jackson is going to have to play like that with the reserves again, but it's such a luxury to have a backup point guard with the tenacity that Reggie has.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium
I'm giving Reggie Jackson an 'A' almost solely because of his performance against the Raptors. When Westbrook went down, it was almost like Jackson took it personally because he started ballin' harder than we've seen him go in quite some time. He finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 assists in 42 minutes (career high?) and hit huge free throws in OT to keep the Thunder up. More than anything though, he was a constant disruptive force on both ends of the court in the 2nd half, rising to the challenge. He helped earn that win almost as much as Durant did.
Lamb_medium
JEREMY LAMB Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 3.5 1.0 0.8 0.5 0.8 0.8 -2.5
JUAN Grade_c_medium It's so disappointing to see Jeremy Lamb out of the rotation after we all got a glimpse of his skill and potential. In a double overtime game, Lamb only got 5 minutes. That's just mind boggling to me.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium The box score says that Jeremy Lamb played in 4 games, but it certainly felt more like 1.5 games. He got no meaningful minutes against the Mavericks and Bulls, got 26 minutes against the Cavaliers, and then was essentially only able to play 5 minutes against the Raptors after Butler fouled out. With that kind of misappropriation of minutes, is there any wonder why Lamb's performance has suffered? To his credit though, he was ready to go against Cleveland and acquitted himself in OT in Toronto. It boggles my mind. He is so, SO much more dynamic than Butler or Fisher, but receives no deference when it comes to consistency in opportunity.

Adams_medium

STEVEN ADAMS Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 1.0 5.3 0.5 1.0 0.0 1.0 -5.8
JUAN Grade_b_medium Steven Adams has been really solid recently. There are some things that he needs to improve, just like any rookie in the NBA, but he's done a really nice job at giving the Thunder solid minutes with Perkins out.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
Steven Adams had a solid week where he saw his minutes go back up a bit and made the most of it. It seems pretty simple, really - if you give Adams minutes on the court, he's going to grab rebounds. The area where he improved this week was in the PnR defense, but he's still struggling to finish at the rim. There were a handful of plays where Durant and Jackson set him up nicely, but Adams couldn't handle the pass or missed the shot.
Collison_medium

NICK COLLISON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 1.5 3.5 1.5 0.0 0.8 1.0 +1.0
JUAN Grade_b_medium The Thunder have been playing it safe with Nick Collison's minutes, I think, but with a shorthanded lineup, Brooks was forced to play him a bit more. I don't know if he showed some rust from not playing many minutes, but he looked uncomfortable at times this week and that's not a good sign. The Thunder need Collison to be his usual solid-self in the playoffs for them to make a run.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium Nick Collison finally saw his minutes go back up this week, in part because the Thunder are shorthanded, but also because I'd like to think they need a bit more continuity on the offensive end. Collison certainly provides that, but a lot of fans are beginning to ask, what's wrong? He's not finishing at the rim, his reliable jumper has disappeared, and his double-digit points/rebounding games are long gone. The sad reality is...Nick is 33. He's slowing down, and his game reflects it. I hope though he's got at least one more big push in him when the playoffs arrive.

Butler_medium

CARON BUTLER Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 7.8 3.5 1.3 0.5 1.8 0.3 +3.5
JUAN Grade_c_medium I'm still not convinced of why Scott Brooks insists of playing Caron Butler so much. Are you trying to tell me that Jeremy Lamb can't put up better numbers then the ones above?
SHERMAN Grade_cplus_medium
Caron Butler sure isn't shy about getting his shots up. The problem is that he only shot 27% from the floor and 33% from 3-point range, despite still attempting over 5 of them per game. What is most perplexing though is that his minutes continue to go up, as he averaged almost 29 minutes despite displaying no measurably scale-able reason why he should be getting more opportunities. Butler isn't a young guy either; the more minutes he logs, the poorer his play gets, as evidenced by his fouling out against the Raptors. If he is part of Brooks' end game rotation, fine; but at least reduce his minutes earlier on so he can at least get his shots over the front rim.

Fisher_medium

DEREK FISHER Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 6.5 1.8 1.0 0.3 1.5 0.8 -6.3
JUAN Grade_b_medium Derek Fisher had a bit of an off week, but we shouldn't panic yet. Now, if he has one or two more down weeks then PANIC.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium Derek Fisher's shooting numbers finally trailed off a bit this past week, as he managed only 33.3% from the floor and 28.6% from beyond the arc. However, I'm not so eager to say that he's finally fallen back to his expected output because I feel that it has more to do with the situation he's being put in more than anything else. When the team sets him up for open shots, he's still knocking them down. However, when Brooks asks him to do things he simply cannot do, like run the high post in a HORNS set, he's going to inevitably fail. Brooks has to keep him in position to succeed, not ask Fish to do more than he is capable.

Jones_medium

PERRY JONES III Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 2 3.0 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 1.0 -9.5
JUAN Grade_dplus_medium
Rough week for Perry Jones III, he was another odd man out of the rotation this week and as Sherman will point out below me, it's hard for a young player to find rhythm when he's in and out of the lineup. Brooks needs to figure out what he wants to do with these guys, and quickly.
SHERMAN Grade_cminus_medium
Perry Jones, like Lamb, is one of the byproducts of Brooks' bizarre substitution pattern he has instituted amidst these numerous back-to-back games. In resting Westbrook on the front end, it is as if these guys either play starters minutes or not at all. As a result, Jones had a lot of difficulty in finding any sort of rhythm this past week. What is on him though is that he's turning into a basic jump shooter, and this is not the strongest part of his game. Jones needs to be finishing at the rim and grabbing rebounds, and until he shows that kind of consistent aggression, his game is going to be spotty.

Roberson_medium

ANDRE ROBERSON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 2.0 3.5 0.3 0.0 0.8 1.0 -4.3
JUAN Grade_cplus_medium I love that Andre Roberson is getting his shot at the rotation with everything that he's had to do to stay on the roster, but he still needs some more work. If Thabo Sefolosha wasn't hurt, he would be getting no burn.
SHERMAN Grade_cplus_medium
Andre Roberson saw his minutes go up this past week as he was the de facto replacement for Sefolosha, and I'm certainly happy he's getting a shot at it. However, his offensive game is now completely exposed; defenses ignore him even more egregiously than they do Thabo and Perkins. Furthermore, he had some major defensive lapses, most notably against the Cavaliers in the 4th.

Thabeet_medium

HASHEEM THABEET Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 0.0 0.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 -0.3
JUAN Grade_d_medium You've let me down, Hasheem Thabeet. I still think he looks like Joey Bada$$ tho.
SHERMAN Grade_d_medium
In limited action, Hasheem Thabeet did not have the same impact that he did in previous weeks. He really struggled to catch the ball in any sort of offensive system, and it's not like his teammates weren't trying to help him. If his play is there, he's got to finish it. Props to Hash though for being the guy that helped carry Westbrook off the court.

Brooks_medium

SCOTT BROOKS Coaching Grade
JUAN Grade_c_medium
At the beginning of the season, we thought Scott Brooks' days of not playing young guys were over, but now, those days are slowly creeping up on us. Brooks has taken Jeremy Lamb out of the rotation and I believe Adams is only getting significant minutes because of injury. Perry Jones is having a tough time finding a rhythm with his inconsistent minutes. Whatever it is that Scott Brooks is doing, I think needs some adjustments. I think Caron Butler is a capable player, but if it comes at the expense of diminishing Jeremy Lamb's confidence, I want no part of that.
SHERMAN Grade_cplus_medium At this point I am completely baffled by Scott Brooks' coaching regression over the course of the season. Early on he was showing true growth in how he was using both his starters and his bench, making for a fluid rotation that had few weaknesses. Now though, down 2 starters already and possibly Westbrook as a 3rd, he's wasting his resources. Against the Raptors, a double OT game on the 2nd night of a back-to-back, Lamb didn't even enter the game until Butler fouled out, and Jones never even got in at all. It's one thing if he's deciding to trust Fisher/Butler in the ends of games, but if he's going to do that, at least put them in a position to succeed instead of playing them 15 minutes longer than they should be.

Thunder_medium

TEAM GRADE Record OffRtg DefRtg AstRatio REB% TS% PACE +/-
(Advanced Stats) 3-1 99.1 101.6 14.4 49.7% 51.7% 96.03 -0.8
JUAN Grade_aminus_medium The Thunder got demolished on the home court by a team they might have to go against in the first round and that's not good. You can't give a team like that the ability to believe they can come into your building and beat you by 20. Luckily for us, the Thunder bounced back and had three good wins on the road, with a little help from Kevin Durant. It's getting close to playoff time and it's time the Thunder go on
SHERMAN Grade_aminus_medium
I give the Thunder team a much higher grade than their coach this week, even though that seems kind of odd, because I saw signs of them really working to correct a lot of the things that ail them. After the embarrassing loss at home to the Mavericks, their defensive intensity turned way up against the Bulls, Cavs, and Raptors. Mistakes are still being made on occasion, but the intensity and focus is no longer as obviously missing as in the past. This is the right direction for this team to be heading as they enter the final dozen games of the season.

*All player images via US Presswire

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