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WTLC roundtable Part 2: which Thunder players have delivered this season?

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The Thunder near their literal crossroads this season, and the WTLC roundtable takes stock in who has performed and who has not.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder season has hit a break in the action, so the WTLC crew addresses some questions about where the team is so far in this challenging season. Part 1 of the roundtable examined where we think they should be vs where they are, and Part 2 here asks which players have stepped up the most and which have regressed.

Today's rountable participants are Joey Conger, Justin Danziger, Dontae Delgado, Sherman, and Kevin Nesgoda.


4) Who is your team MVP?

Joey: Russell Westbrook is my team MVP right now and it's not really close. However, it's a lot closer than it was because KD is looking like the league MVP, even though he probably won't win it.

Justin: Russ.  No one has matched him statistically and performance-wise.  He leads the Thunder in points per game, assists per game, and steals per game.  He also leads the team in PER.  If he was able to close games, I would consider him in the league MVP race.

Dontae: Russell Westbrook. He’s been on the floor longer and made more of an impact form game-to-game than Kevin Durant. He’s leading this team in scoring, assists, PER, and Win Shares. This team has been as Westbrook has been, living and dying with each drive intended to destroy humanity and with each ill-advised jumper intended to destroy our sanity.

Sherman: How about this one - Kendrick Perkins? I know that he has more limitations than any other player on the Thunder squad, but here is my definition of MVP over the first half of the season - the player who has been most willing to play the role assigned to him. Perk was the starting center from the day he arrived in OKC, and yet received the news before the season that 2nd year stud Steven Adams would be taking his job. Who knows how Perk responded privately, but publicly he never wavered from the team's mission and even admitted that if the goal is to be on the court when games matter, he hadn't done enough to warrant that deference. As a result, he hit the court in the best shape of his Thunder experience and has worked hard to keep the team anchored in the midst of a lot of drama, playing the best ball of his term in OKC.

Kevin N: Honestly this can vary from game to game.  No one player has stuck out above the rest on a consistent basis. The guy who brings it the hardest every night is definitely Steven Adams, he's not the teams best player, but he's the trend setter.

5) Who is your team LVP?

Joey: The obvious answer here is Grant Jerrett, but I think that'd be cheating. So I think I'll go with Jeremy Lamb. He was battling for the starting Shooting Guard spot in the preseason and now he hasn't received meaningful minutes since the Charlotte game

Justin: Is it fair to say Scott Brooks?  For the sake of the question I will say Jeremy Lamb.  He was supposed to be a spark plug off the bench but he has yet to prove his consistency.  Now we just wait to see where he will be traded.

Dontae: Jeremy Lamb. He was the catalyst of the James Harden trade, he had the most potential to replace what was lost (not to dwell on that trade). This season, in particular, should have been a showcase for his growth and readiness to play a crucial bench role as the leading scorer off the bench. With KD and Westbrook out earlier, he averaged 12 points, in 27 minutes, on 40% shooting from the field. He has regressed every month and has played just three games (3.3 minutes per) in 2015. Now Dion Waiters is stealing his chi completely.

Sherman: Reggie Jackson is my pick, simply because he had more to gain in this season than any other player on the team, and thus far has been inconsistent, disengaged, and his general attitude has not carried the 2nd unit the way we hoped. Part of it was the early pre-season drama where the media took hold of his desire to be a starter and ran hither and yon with it, but Jackson is a veteran now who should understand how that game works. Instead of showing up ready to go when Westbrook got hurt to try and take OKC in a better direction, Jackson tried to play hero on more than one occasion and failed each time. He should be leading one of the best 2nd units in the entire NBA, but instead he's getting called out by Brooks to stop dribbling in circles and try to guard someone. As a result, we've got an interesting parallel between another player who said that he also decided to, "bet on myself." Jimmy Butler transformed himself into an All-Star. Jackson is now losing minutes to a guy who showed up a week ago.

Kevin N: Lamb is the obvious choice, you could throw in Westbrook too, Perkins.  A lot of guys have disappointed this year.

6) What changes might be made this season? Does Brooks make it through the season? Who gets traded?

Joey: I think Brooks makes it through the season, and the offseason. The only way he isn't on the sidelines next season is if the Thunder miss the playoffs or lose embarrassingly in the first round. As for trades, I don't think there's any doubt that Reggie Jackson will be traded. Whether it's this season or he resigns and is traded next season is the question. I'm leaning toward this season just because of the luxury tax situation. I also don't believe Lamb makes it through the season, most likely involved in a Reggie trade.

Justin: Lamb will most likely be traded and I wouldn't be surprised to see Reggie go.  I want Scott Brooks to make it through the season, just so he has a big enough time frame to get stuff done with a healthy lineup.  But he hasn't been able to do anything special with the roster he has.  We are seeing a downhill trend from a few years ago.

Dontae: I think Reggie Jackson will be traded. He’s bound to command more than the Thunder can give, and with Dion Waiters in the wings and is playing healthy minute totals since coming over. Outside of that, I don’t think the Thunder are looking to shake things up much, what they need is consistency and time to build chemistry again.

Brooks does make it through the season, but he may not make through the summer. It wouldn’t surprise me if they fired Brooks in the summer if they miss the playoffs, but I’d be surprised if they made the playoffs, but was fired.

Kendrick Perkins and Jackson are the two major players on the block, in my mind, but I suspect that Lamb and PJ3 may be available also. A Jackson trade is imminent in my mind, but Perkins may be going along with him.

Sherman: See above response from me. It takes a lot to go from being heralded by Sam Presti as one of the "core guys" on the team to a player involved in trade rumors, but Reggie Jackson could be on the verge of getting jettisoned, and it's not even clear what kind of equal value might be available. One of the adages of the NBA is that you can't make a player stay where he doesn't want to play. Jackson doesn't appear as if he wants to stay in OKC. If that is indeed true, there's no reason not to expedite the process, because right now he's hurting the team more than helping, and that puts their entire season at risk.

With regards to Brooks, if they fire him, the season is lost. As our friend Jon Hamm wrote clearly at Daily Thunder, unless your name is Pat Riley, there is little precedent for taking a team away from the incumbent coach mid-season and finding playoff success. If Brooks truly has maxed out his ability with this team, the Thunder would find themselves with a 1 year window - find the perfect coach to get OKC back to the Finals, or risk losing Kevin Durant in free agency. The team has been loyal to Brooks, and maybe to a fault. Now they've painted themselves in a corner, where their best course of action is to place their hope in a system that thus far has proven good-but-not-quite-great.

Kevin N: I think both Kendrick Perkins and Reggie Jackson are for sure gone by the trade deadline.  It would also not shock me to see Jeremy Lamb moved. Brooks makes it to the end of the season, even if the Thunder miss the playoffs, but he'll enter next season on a very hot seat.  The Thunder's window for a title could close next season, so he has to win this year or next to save his job and potentially keep both Durant and Westbrook in OKC.

How would you answer these questions? Leave your answers in the comments below!