"I’m not a big Oklahoma City fan because I don’t think they get any easy baskets. Like last year I didn’t think they could win and the reason I picked Miami to win the championship, the only way you’re going to beat Miami is beat them up inside. That’s what their weakness is. You’re not going to beat them on the perimeter shooting jumpers with Westbrook and Durant...Unless Oklahoma City gets some low post scoring, they’re going to win a lot of games because they have two terrific players and (James) Harden is terrific also, but you’re not going to win the championship just shooting jumpers."
Regardless of whether that statement is actually true, it is definitely an overriding narrative that has stuck with the Thunder over these past 3 seasons. With that in mind, I give you our 8 Points, 9 Seconds friend and resident smart guy Jared Wade:
Several Thunder players show up in these rankings, but the results will surprise you:
The Restricted Area (minimum 30 makes)
1. Serge Ibaka 51-67 (76.1%)
2. Nick Collison 35-46 (76.1%)
You may notice that the first and second names on this list both play for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Add in the success of Thabo Sefolosha, who has gone 21-of-28 (75.0) in the restricted area, and it probably isn't a coincidence. My theory: The great perimeter play of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook opens up the interior, which helps create a lot of easy layups for everyone else.
It remains to be seen whether this small sample size can hold up over both a full season and the playoffs. However, the fact that these types of shots are now a staple of the Thunder offense is good evidence that OKC is learning to run a more dynamic system. In doing so, they are producing the "easy baskets" that critics like Sir Charles crave so much.