Start time - 7:00 p.m. (CT)
Broadcaster - Bally Sports Oklahoma
The Thunder’s last game against the Dallas Mavericks was pretty poor in terms of offensive execution. Oklahoma City scored just 84 points and only 20 points in the paint. It is incredibly difficult to win games when the team’s offense is so putrid.
The only real explanation for the Thunder’s offensive struggles is pretty simple; the team cannot convert on catch and shoot jumpers. As a team, Oklahoma City are shooting 32.6% on this type of shot. The Thunder are also 4th in the league in the number of catch and shoot jumpers taken per game.
Catch and shoot jumpers are supposed to be one of the easiest shots that an offense can generate for a player. The player does not need to worry about creating separation or the footwork needed to develop a pull-up opportunity. All the shooter needs to focus on is nailing the shooting mechanics. It is inconceivable that the Thunder are so poor when it comes to shooting the ball.
Oklahoma City’s offense has also lacked balance over the last month or so. The Thunder are launching away from 3-point land despite not necessarily having the personnel on the team to win games on outside shooting. The reliance on the long ball has led to a lot of offensive volatility and a lack of consistent scoring.
The Thunder have to start attacking the basket more and stretch the defense out vertically. At the moment, the Thunder are not driving which is allowing the opposing team to push up on the arc and force the Thunder into playing stagnant, sideways passes.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort have both been willing to drive to the hole but we need other players to step up. Josh Giddey is shooting 66% within three feet of the rim but he is not getting to that zone of the floor enough. Giddey is settling for threes or mid-range floaters too much.
Giddey is an able scorer inside but you do get the sense that early misses in the game really affect him. When Josh has one of those games where his shot is not dropping, he turtles up and only focusing on facilitating the play. His scoring threat diminishes and he loses those inside opportunities as soon as he starts to play passively.
Josh Giddey needs to trust himself to score the ball and contribute to the team. Luguentz Dort is not the most technical scorer but through sheer bloody will, he impacts every single game offensively. Everything that has been said about Giddey settling can also be applied to Tre Mann.
The Pelicans are a test that cannot be taken lightly; New Orleans has genuinely looked solid over the last few weeks. The return of Brandon Ingram has brought steady, reliable scoring to the team on a nightly basis. The addition of one player has meant that the team’s concept is more solid.
Guys like Jonas Valanciunas and Josh Hart are able to focus on the things they do well when they do not need to worry about where the team’s scoring is coming from. The Thunder have to be engaged defensively and cannot allow Jonas to feast inside as he did in the last contest. The perimeter defense must be active and get their hands on interior passes.
Oklahoma City have not played well recently but the Thunder have to get off the canvas and start playing aggressive, focused basketball. Too often, the team has fallen into the trap of settling for looks. This cannot happen if the Thunder want to have a functional NBA offense. The game agains New Orleans is the perfect opportunity to start turning the tide.