I am a big fan of the TV show "The Big Bang Theory". During a scene in the most recent episode Jim Parsons' character, Sheldon Cooper, said that throughout his life whenever he was faced with a dilemma he would ask himself what his TV hero, Mr Spock, would do. Sometimes the method worked and sometimes it resulted in a broken collar bone that Sheldon can still hear a click when he moves his shoulder a certain way..... but that is beside the point. I thought it might be fun to apply Sheldon's method to the Thunder's current dilemma.
A week ago the Oklahoma City Thunder were on top of the mountain but after 3 straight losses the mood has changed. In fact, if you read enough commentary on social media you will even find the "P" word popping up here and there and like Mr. Spock I find it all:
Mr Spock would call any belief that the start of this season could avoid any vestige of difficulties, when one considers the unknown variables ...... highly optimistic, and "panicking" at this early stage of the season .... illogical. He would add that losses sustained during a difficult opening week's schedule coupled with necessary experimentation, were problematically unavoidable.
Is it really that big of a surprise that a team with a new coaching staff might struggle with a four game in five night gauntlet at the onset of their schedule? Two back-to-backs in five days and both were home and away affairs that included traveling between games. If that was not brutal enough, it all came immediately on the heels of an emotional opening night home win and a grueling double overtime game on the road. Six games, nine days, and traveling back and forth between every one.
The rotation choices are being singled out as the primary culprit for the Thunder's current losing streak closely followed by complaints that the team is falling back into patterns late in games that Billy Donovan was hired to correct. I think Mr Spock would counter with, given the gaps in available rotational data from the previous season and a seven year history of bad habits in closing minutes, it is logical to complete the rotational data files as quickly as possible and assess individual behavior patterns before attempting to modify them.
One of my personal complaints was not seeing our new coach intercede on his player's behalf when the Thunder were not getting their fair share of 50/50 calls. My complaint did not pass the Mr Spock test. He would say that Donovan, as the controlled variable in these situations, must first remove himself from the equation before he can hypothesize how best to intercede in the future.
Unfortunately, when I tried to apply Sheldon's method to the future Spock tells me the data is incomplete and the future contains too many unknowns to accurately predict the eventual outcome so what advise does Spock offer Billy Donovan?
Guessing may not be in Spock's nature but that is the position Billy Donovan is in. He has to gather the current data, rely on his experience, and make the best guess he can. Spock's guess got his crew-mates home and hopefully Donovan's adjustments will bring a championship home to Oklahoma City but the future is like and undiscovered country and that is a different movie.... my advice?... lighten up, stay tuned, and enjoy your holiday season. There will be plenty of time to panic after New Years.