Since taking over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Interim Head Coach Scott Brooks has lead the team to 12 wins and 32 losses. Hardly a record to brag about, but the play and competitiveness of this young team, has showed tremendous signs of progress since Brooks took over. The question is, will that be enough? General Manager Sam Presti is trying to mold and build this team into a sustainable contender, and I have doubts as to whether Presti, or this orginization believe that Brooks is the long term solution for the Thunder. Oklahoma City ranks 5th from the bottom in points against (4th worst in point differential), and is just one win positive of being the least winning team in the league. Is that the kind of production that will lead to an extending stay as head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder? I ponder some thoughts inside the full post...
Sam Presti is a general manager who came up through the San Antonio Spurs system, and knows what it takes to build a title contender. One of the things he's tried to focus on the most is building an unselfish, defense minded culture, around this team. So far he's been successful in one area (which is the likely reason Wilcox got the boot), but not the other. The players he's drafted and brought in, are all team players, and good character guys, but as of yet he's been unable to balance that with a good defensive basketball team on the court.
PJ Carlesimo was brought in for one reason, and one reason only, develop a defensive culture on the court. After just 13 games this season, it was clear, he was not going to be able to do that. Many think he should have been fired at the end of last season, but the organization wanted to keep some level of continuity in the transition from Seattle to Oklahoma City. Once the season started, and the team stopped being even remotely competitive, he was fired, and the Thunder turned to first time head coach Scott Brooks.
Scott Brooks made an immediate impact, and despite the team going 2-17 in his first 19 games as head coach, the team was playing more competitive basketball. He even lead the Thunder to a 7-7 record in month of January, not bad for a team that started 3-29. The team was playing so much better, that many fans were clamoring for him to get an extension. I was one of those people, but just like you, I'm a fan, and when things go from dreadfully awful to mediocre (7-7 is mediocre at best folks), all of the sudden the guy becomes the greatest coach ever and we need to lock him up. Obviously, Presti is not a guy who's going to make rash decision, and he said from the beginning that Brooks would be the head coach for the rest of the season. I took that to mean he would make a decision regarding the teams future after the season was over. A wise decision.
Since the remarkable (remember, it was only mediocre) 7-7 January, the Thunder have gone just 3-8 since, and it won't get any easier the rest of the season. That .500 record was more of a product of a soft January schedule than anything remarkable happening to this team. Not to say that the team hasn't made great strides, as they clearly have. I believe a lot of those strides can be attributed to young players getting better through game experience, just as much, if not more, than from Scott Brooks taking over the team.
We all know the old saying, "Defense wins championships." Call it cliche, call it bunk, call it whatever you want, but defense DOES win championships. This team, is unfortunately, one of the very worst defensive teams in the league. In my opinion, as much as Brooks talks about Defense, it doesn't seem to have much affect on the defensive effort on the court. For example, the Thunder recently had a 3 game stretch against the leagues top 3 scoring teams. All of those teams like to push the ball up court and play a fast paced, high scoring brand of basketball, and in each of those the Thunder was happy to play at that frantic pace. Maybe its because this team is very young, and its a fun way to play the game, or maybe Scott Brooks does not have the chops to get through to his young team when it comes to defense and how to play it. Either way, one thing is clear, this team is still defensively terrible.
But back to the question, does Scott Brooks deserve a multi-year deal to coach the Thunder? Me personally, I'm still undecided. I do like the progress the team has made, but at the same time, am very skeptical as to whether Brooks can turn this team into a winner over the next few seasons. I guess I would lean toward checking out other coaching options after the season, and if there seems like a better fit for a growing team, make that move. But if there isn't anyone else out there that can be a better fit, then I'd offer up a modest 2-year deal for Brooks.
What do you think about keeping Brooks?