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Thunder Thoughts: Don’t mess with the starting line up

Chuck Chaney December 5, 2013 1 Comment
(AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

(AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Many people have made a point about Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha remaining in the starting line up. The Daily Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry has been a proponent this season in making a change. I’m going to give my two cents on the whole starting line up change and why it needs to stay the same.

Oklahoma City has a great starting line up. It has a combination of three scorers and two players who can play defense. Yeah, in a perfect world, you’d have five players who can defense and can score, but then you’d probably be 72-10.

Dogging on Thabo is fine. He’s slumping. He’s shooting 40 percent from the floor and just 30 percent from 3-pt range. Which he is a career 44 percent and 35  percent, respectively. However, he had two great seasons shooting the long ball, now he’s back to around his career average. Brooks says it should even out by the end of the season. We’re roughly 20.7 percent through the season, and he’s still struggling.

One thing about Sefolosha I’m noticing, he’s hesitating more than ever. In the past two seasons, he’d openly take that shot in the face of a defender. It seems like either A) he’s scared to have his shot blocked or B) he’s wanting to be a lot more aggressive and get to the rim.

I’ll say it’s a bit of both. Thabo spoke on media day about wanting to be more aggressive, and he has been. However, Sefolosha is a jump shooter, and not someone who attacks. Yeah, it’s nice for a few plays, but for the majority of the game it does two kinda bad things: 1) It fatigues him. Being a spot up shooter doesn’t take nearly as much energy as it does powering through the lane. 2) it’s hurting Oklahoma City by missing out on those points he would’ve scored.

Now, there is a catch-22 for Thunder fans in this situation: Oklahoma City fans would be really upset if he was taking a contested three-pointer instead of trying to be aggressive. Then they’d be angry for him missing at the rim. It’s a bit of a lose-lose situation. I think he needs to quit over thinking it, and just start shooting like has in the past. Sefolosha shot 48 percent from the floor last season. A lot of his shots were made at the rim, (100-of-151) However, a resounding amount, 55.8 percent were in jump shooting scenarios. He shot (130-259 50.2 percent) in jump shooting scenarios. Less attacking, less jump shooting.

For Kendrick Perkins, he’s passed his prime and has never been any where near as agile as when he was a Celtic. That’s what happens with knee injuries, I guess. Plus, he’s had two here in Oklahoma City, even though he continues to claim he’s 100 percent healthy. He’s not worth the remaining $17 million he’s owed from Oklahoma City. Here’s the deal on that. Deal with it. He’s not going anywhere. He’s going to in Oklahoma City until his contract is up. Sam Presti said they have not even thought about amnesting him.

However, his hands are bad, but he’s a solid defender. Yeah, as we’ve pointed out here he hurts the team when he’s on the court. Yet, last night he showed he was a decent defender against LaMarcus Aldridge. He is one of the best one-on-one defenders in the NBA. Still. Knee injuries and all. However, when he hurts the team is when he’s moving around the court, forgetting or can’t switch on players (yes probably both) or he gets switched on a player who’s much more athletic than he is, and is able to take Perkins to the rim.

His lack of mobility really hurts his team, and that’s where Scott Brooks is continuing to learn how to use Perkins. Perkins is playing the lowest amount of minutes since he was a second year player. (17.9) I think a lot of it has to do with actually having a competent back up in Steven Adams. Had we not gotten another player to play the back up role, I was assume that Perkins would still be playing more.

This brings me to my next point:

If you were to remove Thabo and Perkins out of the starting line up and move them to the bench, one of our strong points this season, our bench, would have a significant drop off. We already have a decent defense on their with Nick Collison and Adams. However, Adams can score and handle the ball better than Perkins, and of course Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson are much more efficient scorers than Sefolosha. Yet, you have to have some scoring on the bench for when your starters are resting. Having one of the best on ball defenders in Sefolosha allows him to guard your best guy, while your lesser defenders, defend another player and not expel some much energy trying to guard a Dwyane Wade or a Tony Parker.

Perkins against the right team. Maybe Portland, Dallas, Spurs (did a good job on Splitter recently), Houston, Cleveland and the lesser teams like Philly, Phoenix, etc. So, about 1/3 of the league, he’s an asset to have. However, for his price, no one wants him for his price, not even the Thunder fans.

To bench both players would be handicap the Thunder pretty severely. There is no money to go out and get anyone. So, the line up we have right now, is easily the best one we could have from 1-10.

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