Well maybe not totally forget about them, but regardless of what schemes a team tries to implement to stop the duo they are going to score whether the Thunder win or lose. More about that later.
The Thunder are another offensive juggernaut just like the Spurs in my previous post, ranked 2nd in the league offensively and averaging a whopping 110.2 points per game.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined are contributing 51.7 points per game (PPG) or 47% of the total Thunder score. Yikes.
Sounds like a pretty easy scouting report to beat the Thunder then doesn’t it? Stop Durant and Westbrook or even just one of them and you will have a pretty good chance of beating them.
Well stopping the duo doesn’t mean the Thunder loses, not even close.
Let’s take a look at how the Thunder lost 27 games this season and what the Mavericks may want to look at implementing defensively in round 1 of the playoffs.
As per my last post on slowing down the Spurs offense, if your eyes glaze over when you see lots of numbers and analysis then skip down to the bottom where I summarize everything simply in a scouting report for coaches.
The below table illustrates the offensive stats that were effected the most when comparing Thunder wins and losses this season:
What does the above tell us? When the Thunder lose……
At a high level:
We will keep the above in mind and dig a little further into the numbers as it must be that Durant and Westbrook are being well held in losses? Right? ........Wrong.
You can see below Durant and Westbrook actually up the ante in PPG in losses:
What the above shows is Durant and Westbrook are scoring more points in losses BUT they are taking a lot more shots to get those points as their eFG% is dropping. Both players are also getting to the rim a lot more by driving to the basket.
Now we can’t just let them score at will, some things are working for the defense against the duo when teams beat the Thunder.
2 things are clear with Durant and Westbrook in losses:
But wasn’t one of the keys above that for “catch and shoot” scenarios the numbers were down dramatically for the Thunder in losses? Yet Durant is scoring more from catch and shoot shots and at a better FG% in losses? Well stick with me on this one, I’ll come back to it later.
Are Durant and Westbrook trying to take over games and leaving their teammates out to dry? Or are the other Thunder players the focus of the defense?
This is where things get interesting.
It terms of offensive scoring output both Ibaka and Adams (2 other OKC starters) aren’t seeing any real change in scoring or FG% in wins Vs losses for the Thunder, they are both pretty even regardless of the outcome:
So what we have seen so far, Durant and Westbrook are scoring MORE in losses and the two other starters Ibaka and Adams are unchanged in points? Where is this reduction of 13.1ppg in Thunder losses coming from?
ALL THE ROLE PLAYERS.
That’s right…..Morrow, Waiters, Payne, Augustine, Singler.
To put it bluntly they stink when the Thunder lose.
Remember above when I mentioned to stick with me on those low Thunder catch and shoot numbers in losses? Well this is where it becomes very apparent what is happening.
Cutting to the chase…the Thunder role players are being stopped DRAMATICALLY from the 3pt line in catch and shoot situations. The role players. Not Durant, not Westbrook or even Ibaka from 3, it’s the other guys:
You can see above the role players are getting up pretty much the same amount 3’s in Wins (8.7) vs Losses (8) but they are shooting an ice cold 21.3% in losses compared with 43.2% in wins.
To make it really clear, the Thunder are scoring 13.1ppg less in losses and the biggest factor is in defending the 3pt shot of the role players.
Oh and Westbrook is really bad on catch and shoot 3’s as well, his FG% is down to 25% in losses vs 36.7% in wins.
After this revelation that the Thunder role players are the key in reducing the Thunders scoring, let’s take one more look at Durant and Westbrook on pull-up 3pt shots this time around.
You can see in losses both players are jacking up more pull-up 3’s, Durant’s shooting a very un-Durant like 26.1% and Westbrook is staying ice cold in wins or losses.
***Scroll down to here if the above is all too much****
Analytics Scouting Report:
The key message out of all of this is that the most effective way teams have been reducing the Thunders scoring is by focusing on getting out to the role players on the 3pt line and reducing their impact on games.
Durant and Westbrook are lethal scorers and are getting their numbers regardless, of course teams need to make it as tough as possible for the duo, but keeping the role players in check seems to have the most effect on the Thunders scoring and is contributing heavily to when they lose.