Oklahoma City Thunder Cannot Live And Die By The 3
The Oklahoma City Thunder have dropped four straight games after starting 6-1 on the season. The three-point shot is a contributing factor in their struggles.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have lost four straight games. Two of those games happened by facing elite competition and the other two were to the Orlando Magic and, most recently, the Detroit Pistons.
In the loss to Detroit, the Oklahoma City Thunder shot 5-of-27 from three-point range. No one on the team hit more than one shot from beyond the arc.
They were 7-for-25 from three during the game against Orlando.
During the Detroit game, only three players did not attempt a three–Nick Collison, Semaj Christon and Steven Adams. Enes Kanter shot a three, Victor Oladipo shot seven threes and Jerami Grant took four.
Seriously, who’s rebounding the ball if the bigs are jacking mid-range jumpers and three-point shots? The Oklahoma City Thunder cannot live and die by the three-point shot. The Oklahoma City Thunder attempt an average of 24 threes a game.
They make an average of eight a game, which is tied for 17th in the league at 33 percent on the season.
If I am Billy Donovan, I’m pulling any big man (except Domantas Sabonis) that shoots a three. It’s becoming an epidemic in Oklahoma City. Kanter and Grant should not be shooting threes. The Thunder have to address this issue.
The offense for the Thunder has hit a brick wall. Currently, they rank 20th in the league in adjusted field goal percentage at .485 for the season.
The problem is that Westbrook has strayed away from the pick-and-roll offense. When Enes Kanter is shooting two three-point shots a game, there’s a problem.
Westbrook attempted 21 shots and Oladipo took 17 shots Detroit. No other player attempted double-digit shots.
Players aren’t moving without the ball nor are taking high-percentage looks. Adams got three shots against Detroit, without Andre Drummond in the game.
Adams should have been fed the ball by Westbrook consistently Tuesday evening.
You can’t blame the OKC struggles on the fact that the offense isn’t any good because guys can’t score. In 2006 Raja Bell averaged 14.7 points a game for the Phoenix Suns because Steve Nash ran an offense built on floor spacing and utilizing the pick-and-roll attack.
In fact, five players for that 2006 squad averaged double-digit numbers for Phoenix.
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Donovan and Westbrook have to establish the post early and often. There is no excuse for Adams taking three shots a game against Detroit without Drummond. Adams shot 70 percent from the floor in the San Antonio Spurs series last season and averaged 11 points a game.
Now, he’s back to square one because of players relying too much on the three-ball.
The Thunder also have to flirt with the idea of moving Oladipo to the second unit.
Oladipo needs the ball in his hands to create his own shot. Obviously, the Thunder are lacking a point guard to distribute the ball efficiently with the second unit; however, that doesn’t mean that Oladipo can’t move the ball as the leader of the second squad.
Yes, the Thunder have an identity problem. Is this looming from a post-Kevin Durant vibe? No, this can be fixed; Westbrook has to become a playmaker. Westbrook has to distribute the ball, players have to move without the ball and take high-percentage shots.
The Thunder have to run a pick-and-roll offense in order to be successful. That’s on Donovan and Westbrook. I would expect to see the Thunder tweak the roster slightly to improve the second unit while opening up the floor more for the first unit.