Sharing the Basketball and Success

It starts at the beginning of each game when, after introductions, Thunder players continuously slap hands, give high-fives, and get themselves excited to start the contest. Throughout the course of the night players and coaches show their exuberance for each other’s success on the court. The Thunder, currently one of the top teams in the Western Conference, have achieved on-and-off court harmony because its players support one another and play hard for each other.

“I think everybody comes in every single day ready to play,” forward Kevin Durant said. “And I think if we do that we can be a pretty good team. We’re just sticking to our concepts. Guys are not worried about who gets the points, who gets the rebound, who gets the assists, we’re just going out there and playing defense and having fun.”

Durant and his teammates like Russell Westbrook have helped guide the Thunder offense into 99.2 points per game, fourth best in the NBA. It is evident that when Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team shares the basketball, makes the extra pass and finds the best available shot, it can score in droves, to the tune of 1.30 points per, shot, second best in the NBA. The Thunder’s ability to score was definitely on display Monday night against Detroit, as they matched their points average and also had 21 assists thanks to tough defense and a joy for sharing the basketball.

“I think it all starts from just defending,” Brooks said after practice Tuesday. “We had so much enthusiasm on the defensive (end of the) floor, everybody was involved. Nobody wanted to be the one that got scored on, and when you have that for the majority of the game, you’re going to put yourself in a position to win… We’re moving the ball, everybody was in the right space, cutting hard, using our screens. That’s good basketball, that’s something you strive for every game. Last night I thought we played really well.”

Westbrook was hardly able to contain himself with excitement after he dropped off a simple pass for James Harden to knock down a transition 3-pointer, and Durant made the choice to slash into the lane and find an open Serge Ibaka instead of taking a long jumper. Unselfish Thunder offense was all around Chesapeake Energy Arena Monday night as the home team had 19 fast break points and 40 points in the paint against Detroit.

“We want to be very efficient in our offense,” Brooks said. “We definitely want to attack early and look to score in transition, but if we don’t have anything, we like to use the shot clock and keep passing the ball until we find a good shot.”

Despite the team’s ability to show it can get out and run in addition to working in the half-court set, it is clear to Brooks and the rest of the Thunder that it is still early in the season. The test for the players and coaching staff is to build on what they have done so far in order to incrementally improve as the season moves closer to the crunch-time.

“We are not a finished product, our guys aren’t complete either,” Brooks said. “We have to work and figure out ways to improve the things we’ve done well and maybe get better in those areas, not just the areas we need to improve on.”