Oklahoma City Thunder: Bench Needs To Step Up For Team To Start Winning

By Brian Anderson
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The championship dreams of the Oklahoma City Thunder were starting to become a reality shortly before the All-Star break. Now, amidst a three-game losing streak, there is a bad feeling in the air surrounding the Thunder organization. What were once high hopes have quickly turned into low expectations. OKC has been terrible on the defensive end, and not as good as they should be on the offensive end.

The Thunder were patiently awaiting the return of Russell Westbrook, but they knew they would have a hill to climb once he returned. I just do not know if they expected the hill to be as steep as it has been in the last week. It is not as if they are losing close games on the road. They are actually blowing games at home, where they are usually one of the best teams in the league.

Their problems could be attributed to many things. That is how bad this team has played in their last three matchups. Kevin Durant continues to play extremely well, which makes it more difficult for us to figure out what is going on with the Thunder at this point. Westbrook has not been himself, but he has still been productive. Westbrook’s role on the team has nothing to do with their recent slide.

Something everyone does seem to be overlooking is the lack of production from the Thunder’s bench. Reggie Jackson, who usually contributes largely, has been playing his worst basketball of the season recently. It has also been the same story for Jeremy Lamb. Lamb has tallied up only 10 points in his last three games after scoring 11 points in the Thunder’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers before the break. Jackson has failed to eclipse 11 points over the last three games, after eclipsing that mark in his previous eight games prior to the break.

Jackson and Lamb’s slide could be attributed to Westbrook’s return, given the fact that their roles have dramatically changed. Jackson will have to get used to coming off the bench and playing well if this team is going to go anywhere. Lamb’s minutes have lessened and he will have to get used to being more effective with less time on the court.

Next week, I doubt we will be even thinking about these things, as the Thunder continue to gel. For now, it is a problem, so we have to try to figure out what is wrong here. I have no doubt that the Thunder will fix their problems soon. I think all they need is a win to reassure themselves of their potential. They have the chance to get things back on the right track tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Brian Anderson is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrAnderson035 “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.


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