Player Grades: Thabo Sefolosha

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An injury, a shooting slump, and a number change, three things that defined a subpar season from Thabo Sefolosha, a 2-guard who had previously cemented himself as a very capable perimeter defender for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Sefolosha had the worst shooting season of his 8 year career, and one of the worst three-point shooting seasons since coming to Oklahoma City halfway through the 2008-2009 season, the franchise’s first season in the heartland. Both his free throw rate and percentage were down considerably, and never gave fans the sense that he was finding his shooting groove. Hesitancy with his shot, and a pass first mentality with open looks at the basket showed an overall lack of confidence in himself.

As the Thunder push for a championship, and as Sefolosha’s contract expires within the next few weeks, a full examination of the 30 year-old guard’s future contribution to the team will be necessary to determine if his services will be needed. While his defensive abilities have proven to be valuable to the team, his best seasons may be behind him. His defensive presence did not have the same effect on opponent’s offensive output, and show that Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb may be just as capable defensively while being much better offensively.

It remains to be seen what will happen with Sefolosha. While his time in Oklahoma City has been fantastic, and he has been a part of a growing team with championship capabilities, it may be time for the Thunder to cut ties with the veteran, and take chances with the youth that they have invested heavily in, or chase a new veteran that will add another scoring threat to this potent, yet at times unbalanced, roster. Sefolosha still has a lot to add, and if he receives an extension could still be a viable asset for the Thunder.

His playoff performance was most notable when he was off the floor, when the Thunder’s offense had another spark, via the insertion of Caron Butler or Reggie Jackson into the starting line-up in Sefolosha’s stead. The Thunder was 6-9 when Sefolosha played in the playoffs, but 4-0 when Sefolosha did not play (including both wins versus San Antonio). Only 38% of his 236 playoff minutes this season were logged in wins.

Through the good times and the bad times, Sefolosha has given us a great run, including some fantastic, and quite clutch three pointers, steals, and assists. And then there was this play. Yeah, that’s how you save a ball from going out of bounds. He’s been there since the 23-59 season, and was here for the 59-23 season this year.

No one has figured out the number change yet.

2013-14 Grade: D-

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In the spring of 2011, right as the Thunder were locked in a tough Western Conference Finals battle with the Dallas Mavericks, a silk tie was hand woven in a small mom and pop tie shop in western Italy. A "congratulations on making the Conference Finals" gift from Sam Presti to Coach made what I do possible. And the legend continues...


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