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Thunder weekly grades: Kevin Durant returns, Russell Westbrook surges, Jeremy Lamb shines

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The Thunder finished the week 1-1; which players stepped up and which ones need to do better in the upcoming week?

The Thunder finished this past week at 1-1, which is one thing, but most importantly, the other thing is that both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are back on the court together. While Durant's debut ended on a sour note, how did he and the rest of his teammates perform?

Game 1: Durant returns, but Thunder fall to Pelicans 112-104

Game 2: Thunder earn sloppy win over hapless 76ers, 103-91

***

KEVIN DURANT Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 2 29.5 18.5 4.5 2.5 0.5 0.0 3.5 -0.5
JUSTIN
grade_Aminus
He is back!  I think everybody forgot that Durant is not immortal--he is human too.  It takes time to recover from a serious injury.  It may take KD a few more games to get used to playing and to finally get into his groove, but just for being on the court and off the bench...I had to give him an A-.
SHERMAN
grade_Bplus
So, Kevin Durant finally made it back on the court, and there was much rejoicing. That probably deserves an 'A.' His play, however, teetered between 'ok' and 'kind of bad' but then again that is to be expected since these are the first competitive games he's played since last year. Can we give him a B+ and admit that there's some grade inflation going on there? Let's not nitpick too much but instead simply be happy that Durant is playing again.

RUSSELL WESTBROOK Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 2 32.0 24.0 5.5 6.5 0.0 2.0 6.5 -3.5
JUSTIN
grade_Bplus
Despite Westbrook being sloppy and committing too many turnovers, he just makes the Thunder offense run so much smoother.  When you get a player like Westbrook, who basically runs through people to get to the basket, turnovers will happen.  You just got to accept the fact that that's Westbrook.
SHERMAN
grade_B
It is always fun watching new Thunder fans try to wrap their heads around the Russell Westbrook experience. In a span of 3 games, Russ went from MVP candidate to trade bait back to turnover-prone Superman. On the whole, I like the way he's playing, focusing on producing points at the rim and from the FT line instead of shooting jumpers all game long. I'd attribute about half of his staggering 13 TO's in the past 2 games to the effects of being off the court for a while (bad timing, forcing angles, etc.) and half of them a byproduct of Russ being Russ.
SERGE IBAKA Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 2 34.0 12.5 3.5 0.5 3.5 0.0 1.5 -0.5
JUSTIN
grade_Cplus
Serge Ibaka is playing pretty well on the offensive end.  He is showing his newly discovered range, scoring on the inside.  But defensively, he isn't getting the job done on the boards.  He struggled mightily against a superior Anthony Davis and he only grabbed 4 boards against the 76ers.  No excuses Serge!  Crash the boards!
SHERMAN
grade_Cplus
I can't say that Serge Ibaka has been bad per se, but he's kind of all over the map in terms of what he's bringing to the court. He's still jacking up 3's and blocking shots, but we haven't seen the kind of consistency that we had hoped from a veteran player of Ibaka's caliber. Also, the team is struggling mightily in 2 main areas - defensive rebounding and paint protection, two facets that they typically thrive. Hopefully as they get used to one another again these issues will sort themselves out.

ANDRE ROBERSON Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 2 18.0 1.0 7.0 1.5 0.0 0.5 0.0 +12.0
JUSTIN
grade_B
I can't believe I am about to say this--because I feel like almost every player has offensive potential--but Andre Roberson needs to just focus on his defense and rebounding.  He isn't detrimental to the offense like Thabo was last season, but I feel like he has hit his ceiling in terms of potential offensively.  I love what he brings to the court on the other side to the ball, though.
SHERMAN
grade_B
I hope we've all moved past Andre Roberson's failed 3-point attempt against the Warriors a week ago and remember that he's on the court for two things - his defense and his rebounding. His offense is still atrocious, but at least he's not wasting possessions with bad shots or turnovers. Meanwhile, he was the team's 2nd best rebounder last week and was a lone bright spot defensively.
STEVEN ADAMS Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 2 17.5 4.5 2.5 1.0 1.5 0.5 0.5 +0.5
JUSTIN
grade_C
I recently wrote about how Steven Adams developed offensively, but he did have some struggles this week.  He was matched up against Anthony Davis, and obviously, Davis won the battle.  I would like to see some more rebounds out of Funaki, but what can you expect when he is forced to play against the league's best forward.
SHERMAN
grade_Cplus
Lessons learned this past week: if you criticize Steven Adams it is akin to summoning Maui and trying to steal his fish. I kid, I kid. Adams had a tough week, in part because he had to help slow down Anthony Davis and then saw his game curtailed against the 76ers after starting out strong. I think/hope Scott Brooks is still trying to figure out how to use him best, especially out of the HORNS sets. My suggestion - keep rolling him to the rim; having Adams stand stationary 20 feet from the basket turns him into Perk.

REGGIE JACKSON Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 2 31.5 14.0 2.0 4.0 0.0 1.5 1.0 -6.5
JUSTIN
grade_Aminus
Reggie Jackson has been phenomenal transitioning back to the bench.  His production hasn't slowed down and he just makes the Thunder bench tolerable to watch.
SHERMAN
grade_Bplus
One of the underwritten stories is how Reggie Jackson has re-adjusted to his place on the bench behind Westbrook. I think that early returns are promising. He's shooting a solid % (although still too many 3's) and he's leading a 2nd unit that has more punch and consistency than the starting 5. He needs to keep focusing on his best offensive attribute - getting to the rim - in order to open up other offensive options.
JEREMY LAMB Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 2 22.0 15.0 4.5 1.0 0.0 1.0 0.5 +5.5
JUSTIN
grade_Aplus
Before this week, I was close to losing all hope in Jeremy Lamb.  He was crap on offense and defense and his shooting percentages were unbearable to look at.  These past two games, Lamb shot 71% and 85% from the field and 50% and 100% from long range.  I'm not saying we can get this type of production out of Lamb every week, but things are looking bright.  Defensively, he still struggles off the ball.  But if Lamb can find his niche, his deficiencies can be overlooked a bit.
SHERMAN
grade_A
I'm giving Lambo an 'A' and I don't care what people say. Yes, his defense off the ball is still pretty bad and he keeps getting sucked into unnecessary double-teams while leaving his man open one pass away from the ball. However, offensively Lamb has been brilliant. It isn't so much that he's just shot a great % (79% from the floor, 80% beyond the arc) but rather how adept he is playing his role. As we've argued, if you want Lamb to be an offensive center point, he turns into a chucker. However, put him along side other good players, and he becomes much more selective and disciplined, a great attribute for a bench role player. Also, he hit back to back 3's vs the 76ers to ice that game.

KENDRICK PERKINS Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 2 20.0 2.0 8.5 1.5 1.0 0.0 2.5 +3.0
JUSTIN
grade_B
I think moving Perk to the second unit was one of Scott Brooks' best decisions.  He is leading and mentoring the young guys on the bench and contributing as well.  His rebounding numbers are solid and his screens are still monstrous.
SHERMAN
grade_Bplus
Let us forget that Kendrick Perkins ever tried to score in the low post while being guarded by Anthony Davis. Instead, let us marvel at the fact that against Philly, Perk was used in the high post and actually did a very good job, despite not being able to either shoot or dribble. He's become the de facto leader of the 2nd unit, and I think it works because he's not going to lead by demanding shots. He just wants to screen someone. Preferably Nerlens Noel.

NICK COLLISON Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 2 7.5 2.5 1.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.0 +3.0
JUSTIN
grade_C
Nick Collison played only 7 minuted vs. the Pelicans and 8 minutes vs. the 76ers.  His days are numbered as a player.  I can definitely see him brought back as a coach or mentor, since he has already been helping out the young guys.
SHERMAN
grade_C
I have a feeling we're going to see a lot of 'meh' kinds of games superficially from Nick Collison, but we have to remember that as his career winds to a close, his value is in how he helps his younger teammates learn to succeed. If the 2nd unit is playing well, Nick's influence is a reason why.

PERRY JONES III Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 1 6.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 -2.0
JUSTIN
grade_Bplus
PJ3 only played 6 minutes in his return against the 76ers.  It'll be interesting to see if Brooks makes him a large part of the rotation due to his solid start to the season.  But here is a B+ for being back on the court Perry!
SHERMAN
grade_B
Perry Jones didn't do much in his long awaited return to the Thunder lineup, but that's ok. It is nice to see him on the court again after a surprisingly strong start to this season. Now we get to see if he can figure out a way to carry over that offensive explosiveness despite getting only a fraction of the minutes and shot attempts.

ANTHONY MORROW Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 2 21.5 7.5 2.0 2.0 0.0 0.5 0.0 -1.0
JUSTIN
grade_C
Anthony Morrow struggled against the 76ers, shooting 7 threes and only connecting on 1.  Look, Morrow will have some off games, even the best shooters struggle at times.  I feel like the Thunder need to create better shots for him.  Westbrook and Durant will certainly help him out now that they are back.
SHERMAN
grade_Cminus
Anthony Morrow was signed by OKC to be a deadeye 3-point specialist, and I believe he still is one. I worry though that the Thunder are not setting him up well and he's turning into a gunner. He's firing up 3's at a rapid pace despite not connecting on them, and rarely does it come within the flow of the offense. The Thunder need to start thinking about where they want him to set up in the offense and begin engaging offensive sets to give him those specific shot opportunities.

ISH SMITH Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 2 1.0 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 -1.5
JUSTIN
grade_C
He had a rebound against the 76ers!
SHERMAN
grade_C
Ish Smith saw action this past week. That's all I know.

MITCH MCGARY Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
JUSTIN
grade_Aminus
Mitch McGary was assigned to the OKC Blue, the D-League affiliate.  He played great and is averaging a double-double.  Playing in the D-League is a great way for a rookie to get acclimated to the NBA style action, but I hope Brooks doesn't keep McGary there.  He can be a valuable rotation guy to the Thunder.
SHERMAN
grade_Bplus
Mitch McGary finally saw some action this past week returning from a broken foot, albeit for the Thunder's D-League team the Blue. Thus far he is averaging a double-double and if you can find the footage, appears to be the kind of player that could easily slide into the Thunder bench unit. Will we see him in a Thunder jersey this coming week?

LANCE THOMAS Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 2 3.0 2.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.0 +0.5
JUSTIN
grade_C
Not much to say about Lance.  Quiet week.
SHERMAN
grade_C
Lance Thomas, you did the best with what you have, and we salute you.

Thunder_medium

TEAM GRADE Record OffRtg DefRtg AstRatio REB% TS% PACE +/-
(Advanced Stats) 1-1 103.7 100.5 16.7 47.8% 57.3% 100.4 +2.0
JUSTIN
grade_B
The offense has picked up with the return of Westbrook and Durant, but they don't have much time to dillydally.  The Western Conference is a daunting race between 10 teams, and if OKC falls behind, it is really hard to climb back in.  They cannot afford to lose to mediocre teams.
SHERMAN
grade_B
Right now, there are no style points for OKC. What they need now are wins, if only because they cannot tolerate any more losses this early in the season. Even if they had defeated the 76ers by a single point, it still matters because it's not a loss. They enter a crucial stretch over these next two weeks, and any more losses to sub-par teams could greatly cripple their chances in April.

SCOTT BROOKS Coaching Grade
JUSTIN
grade_C
Scott Brooks has to help KD get back into his groove and also address the defensive issues.  It will be interesting to see how he handles playing Perry Jones and if he decides to call up Mitch.  But for this week, not much happened with Brooks.
SHERMAN
grade_Cminus
Scott Brooks didn't do anything of note while coaching, although I appreciated his taking his team to task after the Pelicans loss for their horrid defensive display. He's going to be juggling his lineups for a while and that's fine, but right now his emphasis ought to be on shoring up the front line so they don't resemble a colander that fouls too much.

*All player images via www.usatodaysportsimages.com