No one thought that the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s bench would be playing this good this early in the season. Contrary to those beliefs, they’re currently playing extremely well. I think they may even be able to outplay some starting lineups in the NBA.
In tonight’s 119-110 win against the Detroit Pistons, the OKC bench allowed starters like Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka to get late fourth quarter rests. Rest will be important for Westbrook as he tries to work himself back to 100 percent. Reggie Jackson is stepping in and showing that he can run the Thunder’s offense whether it’s late in the first quarter or early in the fourth.
Not only is the young Jackson playing at a high level, but so is second-year man Jeremy Lamb and rookie center Steven Adams. Everyone is expecting Adams to take the starting job from Kendrick Perkins, but I don’t know if that’ll be the best thing for the Thunder right now. He seems to work well with the backups and at least one of their two superstars on the court. Eventually he should start, but I think the Thunder should wait until Perkins is moved to another team and a quality center is brought in to replace him.
Then there’s Lamb. Regardless of what anyone says, he’s doing more than enough early in the season. He’s averaging around 10 points per game so far; I expect those numbers to rise a bit as the season progresses. He won’t have to do what James Harden did for the Thunder; not as long as they’re getting solid production from multiple bench players.
The Thunder may have played their best basketball of the early season tonight in Detroit. Kevin Durant dominated with 37 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Westbrook struggled a bit going 5-for-19 with 20 points. Much wasn’t asked of Ibaka as Adams stepped up with a double-double, cashing in with 17 points and 10 rebounds in what was his most productive game in his young career. Lamb had a solid game with 10 points, but didn’t manage to put up any stats in any other category besides personal fouls. Nick Collison added in nine points off the bench and Jackson had some rather devilish numbers, finishing with six points, six rebounds and six assists.
The Thunder’s next chance to prove that they’re still contenders in the title race comes Sunday in a home game against the Washington Wizards.