I spend a lot of time analyzing this team, and sometimes, I come up with things to say that just aren't long enough for their own article. So I thought I'd throw together a quick post with a few observations that I've had about the Thunder's bench players over the past few games.
1: Over the past 10 Games, Reggie Jackson is averaging 14.4 Points, 54% from the field, 38% from three, 3.5 rebounds, 3.1 Assists, and 1.5 Turnovers.
Considering Reggie Jackson's past, those numbers are ridiculously efficient and ridiculously exciting. He's very quickly becoming the fourth cog that we've wanted in our offense, consistently providing a minimum amount of offense and points to keep our bench going. You can credit his recent success to the continued development of his dribble-drive game and his enhanced understanding of the offense. When he's on the ball, he does a great job of breaking his defender down and knowing his passing options when he ventures past the three point line. When he's off the ball, he's always ridiculously good at working within the offense to find open spots, and never gives up on a play. I don't think his extremely high percentages will continue, but it's great to know that the Reggie Jackson of the 2013 playoffs is here to stay.
2: Steven Adams is quietly regressing.
After an extremely strong start, it seems like Steven Adams has slowly and quietly tapered off. He hasn't played over 20 minutes since the Thunder's blowout win against Utah on November 24th, and he hasn't been able to get a ton of exciting things happening on the offensive or defensive end. It's not like the guy has seen the bottom drop out from under him, as he's still a much better option than Hasheem Thabeet. But he's been routinely abused by more experienced centers on the other end of the floor, and we haven't gotten to see much of the short hook that looked like it would be an offensive staple early in the season. Honestly, this really doesn't concern me all that much, because Adams will take a ton of time to develop and was considered to be extremely raw coming out of college. That, and the fact that he's the best rebounder on the team.
3: Andre Roberson is simultaneously the best rebounding and the worst ballhandling shooting guard in the entire league.
It's kind of funny that we have this dude playing shooting guard, because he's huge. He was primarily a post player in college, and has quite a bit of adjusting to do before he's comfortable in his NBA role. So far, he's done an admirable job, providing solid defense and a few key rebounds. But his ballhandling has a long way to go before he can be trusted with any offensive responsibility. He had three turnovers yesterday, and one of them was on a basic traveling call with literally nobody around him. Other time, he just telegraphs his passes from the second he gets the ball, even when his teammate isn't expecting the pass. I'm not trying to be positive or negative here, but I am saying that Roberson will definitely be quite the unique shooting guard when it's all said and done.
4: Derek Fisher is a two guard now, and he doesn't hurt us that much anymore.
If you just glanced at the stats, it might be hard to tell that Derek Fisher is playing any differently than he has over the past 10,000 seasons that he's been in the NBA. But his role with the team is definitely evolving. He used to be somewhat of a game manager, forced to handle the ball as a point guard despite his lack of scoring ability and advanced age. However, at this point, Fisher seems to be strictly an off-guard. Aside from his usual corner three duties, Fisher has been increasingly active in handling the ball in transition and driving the ball, rather than setting up the offense. And in this sense, he's been surprisingly effective, especially when used in the "three point guard lineup" with Jackson and Westbrook.
Fisher's biggest triumph this season arguably came when he was tasked with guarding Kevin Martin late in the Timberwolves game and made him miss four straight shots. The missed shots were absolutely crucial, and turned the tide in the Thunder's favor. For a guy who's normally noted for defensive follies, it was almost surreal. But, to me, it kind of epitomizes how well the Thunder have been able to use his abilities this season. He's certainly not useful against all players, and there are definitely games where he doesn't do a whole lot. But the negative effect that he's had on the team during the regular season over the past couple of years has diminished greatly, and that's a testament to some excellent game management on the Thunder's part.
5. Jeremy Lamb is our best kept secret.
So far, Lamb has been ridiculously inconsistent. He's a player that's capable of exploding for 20 points one game and then giving you an 0fer the next game. I wouldn't take this as a sign that he's the next Nate Robinson, playing with extreme energy and potentially torpedoing his team with bad performances. Rather, I take it as a sign that, sometimes, he's the odd man out. When Durant, Westbrook, Jackson, and Ibaka are all scoring so efficiently, why would you need to run a ton of plays for Jeremy Lamb?
Despite that, I think that Lamb has a niche within this team, already formed. Basically, he's a terrific weak-side player. The Thunder have powerful options on the strong side, so sometimes Lamb's services aren't really needed. But if the other team decides to pressure, Lamb is almost always there to cut to the basket, knock down the open shot, or run a quick pick and roll while the defense is scrambling. This has allowed him to shoot ridiculously good percentages from the floor, and doesn't put too much responsibility on him right away. I mean, when this guy actually develops his game to the point where he's a significant shot creating threat....he's going to be seriously pretty good.
What do you think about our bench players? Let us know in the comments!