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Sounds of Thunder: It’s time for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s “Young Guns” to grow up

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It’s reality check time boys.

A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. - George S. Patton

For Oklahoma City, Game 1 in Houston was a predictable disaster and Game 2 was a win that slipped right through the Thunder’s fingers. Now sitting 2 games down in this first round playoff series, it’s time for some tough love, a reckoning if you will, and it isn’t going to be pretty.

SBNation’s Tom Ziller tells us that the Thunder are doomed and, if the status quo isn’t altered right now, he is 100% correct. Russell Westbrook is, in all likelihood, the 2016/17 MVP, but he cannot beat the top teams in the Western Conference alone. Maybe once in any given series, but there is no way for one player, no matter how good he is, to beat the best basketball teams in the world 4 times in 7 games without help.

Westbrook got that help, for the most part, in Game 2..... for 34 minutes. In that time the Thunder built a 12 point lead and appeared on their way to a stunning Game 2 upset when the inevitable happened. Russell needed a second breather and the Thunder’s 12 point lead plummeted to 3 in 2 minutes and 19 seconds.

Couple that with the 6 points the Thunder gave back in Russell’s 4 min 18 sec respite in the first half and you get 17 points in just over 6 12 minutes. That is completely unacceptable and it all falls on the shoulders of a bunch of kids Russell has been carrying all season.

All of it.... and it’s time for these kids to grow up and start carrying their own weight.

Second Contract Kids:

Victor Oladipo

Averaged 15.9 pts/gm this season on 44/36/75 shooting and currently averaging 8.5 pts/gm on 19/7/100 shooting in these playoffs. Straight up V.... WTF?!? Did Fat Bastard jump in Dr. Evil’s time machine, go back in time and steal your mojo? I’m calling you out. Where’s that kid that almost killed himself in a game against Boston? Quit talking about getting better and just do it, get after it and stop being afraid to fail. The Thunder need March Okla-dipo, the guy that shot the ball with confidence and averaged 17.2 pts/gm, hitting 49% of his 3-point attempts, not April Ohno-dipo that lost his moxy and stunk up the joint with 18.2% long range shooting, and they most definitely don’t want the current play-off OhCrap-dipo that wouldn’t cut the mustard on a YMCA recreational league team!

Where’s your heart, where’s your pride?!? Stop deferring, trust your talent, stow that tentative junk and STEP UP!

Enes Kanter

Sixth man candidate, season average 14.3 pts in 21.3 minutes per game is averaging only 6 pts in 12 minutes per game because he is unplayable because he still avoids taking a charge, making his PnR defense against Harden a complete joke. Enough is enough, grow some guts already. In 7 12 minutes in Game 2, Kanter scored 4 points but the Thunder dropped 9 points while he was on the floor because the Rockets were able to get to the rim with ease. Forget Kanter’s 3 blocked shots, they were an anomaly. A player, especially a big, that averages 0.5 blocks/gm is not a shot blocker. He must get over his fear of collisions and be willing to set his feet and take a charge. The Thunder don’t have time for Enes’ five year defensive plan.

I thought Turks were supposed to be tough.... let’s see it.

Steven Adams

Season average 11.3 pts/gm, career best, and just 5.5 pts/gm in these playoffs, just barely over half the 10.1 pt/gm the Thunder enjoyed in the 2016 playoffs? What’s up? Pardon my French, but screw finesse. Toss the flip-flops, grab a pair of Army commando boots and let’s go to war, bro. Don’t settle for a push shot if there is a way to the rim. Nene had 2 fouls at halftime when you were going to the rim in Game 2, he ended the game with 2. Attack that rim every chance you get and rip it off its hinges! If you’re going to foul out, forget being nice, make sure your opponent’s momma feels all 6 of them. Take no prisoners and release the beast!!! (take note of Robes 4th 3-pointer in the video below, THAT’s the beast)

Kyle Singler

SMH, if Donovan is bound and determined to throw you out there, then buck up and earn your paycheck. The Thunder have paid you $10 million over the past two seasons and you have scored a grand total of 319 points. You owe and you owe big. Pay up.

Rookie Contract Kids:

Doug McDermott

No complaints about your offense. The nets in Houston are still smoking after that 71/80% shooting performance you put on but I’ve seen enough to know there is no excuse for someone with your athletic abilities to be such a defense bust. Defense is all about desire and discipline and you have too much of one and not nearly enough of the second, a -9.6 net rating just doesn’t cut it. Settle down and D-up so Donovan will gain enough confidence to give that sweet jumper of yours more minutes.

Andre Roberson

Your defense makes me think of Heart’s Magic Man biggun’, but that 3-point attempt you put up in the 4th quarter of Game 2 was pure:

Keystone Kops.

Robes, when you get your legs in the shot it has a chance, but when you shoot stiff legged and release the ball like your releasing a balloon, it doesn’t. You have worked on your mechanics for 4 seasons now, don’t leave them in the locker room, trust them and shoot with confidence. When you do, you get this:

When you don’t.... nah, not going to say it... just do it.

Rookies:

Alex Abrines

Donde esta el hombre lobo?

Twenty-four playoff minutes with nada to show for it.

Eso es una mierda. ¿Jugar en Europa te hizo suave? Hombre arriba y jugar pelota.

You said it, the starting unit cannot do it alone. Hombre arriba y jugar pelota.

Domantas Sabonis

Thunder Nation has waited an entire season for Sabonis to show us the total package. Well Domas, time is up. Get in the fight or go home.

Semaj Christon

For better or worse Semaj is the Thunder’s back up PG. When Westbrook is forced to rest, the duties of leadership falls to him and from this point on, he has to do just that, in fact, a better job of that, he has to lead.

“When you’re in command...command.” That was Holsey’s advise to Adml. Nimitz in the movie Midway, and that is what I would tell Semaj if he were standing in front of me right now. If surviving 2 veterans and a lottery pick in less than a year hasn’t convinced him he is fit to do so, nothing will.

He knows the offense, now it is time to run the offense and if necessary, kick some butts if necessary to get the job done. Nice guys finish last Semaj, do what you gotta do.

Final Thoughts

Before jumping into the comment section and bashing the messenger, remember this; The Thunder lost Game 2 by 4 points. If one of the players I just came down on had met their season average, with the exception of Roberson and Grant who exceeded theirs, the Thunder would have home court advantage and control of this series.

Grant’s season average was 5.4 pts/gm on 47/38/62 % shooting, and his playoff average thus far is 9.5 pts/gm on 54/50/80 % shooting. Robes has more than doubled his season output. What can I say in those cases other than “Nice job kid, keep it up”.

I’m sure there are those that think I should be coming down on Westbrook for going hero-ball in the 4th quarter or Billy Donovan, but the truth is, the Thunder needed every single point that Russell scored and then some, and I don’t come down on a coach who put a game plan together that would have won if any one of 4 or 5 players had just hit their season average.

See? I disagree with Ziller’s premise that Westbrook is damned if he passes or damned if he shoots. I’ve seen what this young team is capable of when they believe in themselves and put their best collective efforts forward. And, through his all-out effort this season Westbrook has earned a third option, the right to demand their best for 48 minutes.

Thunder up.