Thunder Continuing Work on Offensive Execution
The simplest goal of an NBA offense is to get a clean look at the rim on every single possession.
Playing against the best of the best throughout an 82-game schedule makes that goal extremely challenging, but it a part of Head Coach Scott Brooks and the Thunder’s philosophy to grind every single day to perfect its craft. Over the past couple of games the Thunder’s execution on offense, particularly in the fourth quarter hasn’t been quite up to its standards of normal performance, but that is a natural part of slippage throughout the course of an NBA season.
Turnovers, over-dribbling and poor spacing are all small problems that can create stagnant offensive possessions, but they are resolvable issues that the Thunder can solve together.
“Those are things that are obviously correctable,” Brooks said. “We’ve always done a good job. (Kevin Durant) and our team have seen just about every defense that is thrown out there. The second halves of our last two games haven’t been our best basketball, but we can turn it around.”
This season, the Thunder’s fourth quarter offense has seen highs and lows, averaging 5.3 assists in the fourth quarter, fifth-best in the league. The Thunder however has averaged 4.3 turnovers in the final period this season, which is certainly an area the team wants to improve upon moving forward.
As the team continues to adjust to playing without Russell Westbrook, primary ball-handlers Reggie Jackson and Kevin Durant will be facing double-teams and different defensive coverages than they normally would. When Durant or Jackson are facing multiple defenders, it is crucial that they move the ball quickly to an open teammate, so they can play four-on-three against the remaining opponents before the defense can recover.
“We have to continue to do what we’ve done in the past, continue to find the open guy and make him make the quick decision,” Brooks said. “That next pass is the most critical decision-making pass, because that guy has to make the quick decision. All the sudden he turns into the quarterback.”
One way the Thunder can make things even tougher on its defense is by spacing the floor to create both floor balance and large driving and passing lanes. Getting quickly to spots on the floor like the corner, the dunker spot and the elbow is one aspect of spacing, in addition to rotating to the right places to be a ready target for a drive-and-dish opportunity.
When opposing defenses are being aggressive both physically and tactically, the Thunder’s spacing can be a major weapon. If players like Perry Jones who is shooting 50 percent on corner three-pointers this season, can be a consistent threat, defenses will have to honor all five men on the floor, creating easier opportunities for the Thunder’s primary playmakers.
“When Russ and Kevin are handling the ball, it opens up the lane for them so they can be able to attack and do the things they do best,” Jones said. “Being out in the corner, that (creates) a lot of space for them to work and operate.”