By Brian Kalchik @BrianKalchik on June 9, 2014
The Oklahoma City Thunder entered the 2013-14 campaign as one of the overwhelming favorites in the Western Conference, but once again, the same problems that plagued the team in the past few seasons reared their ugly heads. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant had trouble jelling on the court, and the lack of a third scoring option hurt the team. Heading into this offseason, here are five priorities that the Thunder must address.
If there was ever a coach who won more by doing less, it has been Scott Brooks. His inability to call an actual offense and allow Westbrook and Durant to do whatever they want only works in the regular season, not in the playoffs. Either Brooks will have to actually start coaching his team, or he will be looking for a job elsewhere.
Both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have done pretty much everything individually, but their penchant for playing 2-on-5 has to stop. On most of the Thunder's possessions against the Spurs, the offense rarely featured a possession with more than one pass. While Westbrook is too good to be traded, the team will have to try to get both to start playing team basketball. Hero ball doesn't work in the postseason.
A lack of reliance on post play is fine in the regular season, but the Thunder seemed to be allergic to the paint in the playoffs. As a jump-shooting team, there's potential for getting hot, and there's also the potential for prolonged slumps, which the Thunder have endured over the past two seasons. Finding a big man with some offensive talent will benefit the Thunder's offense and take some pressure off Westbrook and Durant.
The Thunder know that Durant and Westbrook can score, but who else are they going to get points from in the backcourt? Reggie Jackson broke out, averaging 13 points per game, but Jackson was an on-again, off-again player who could get 20 points one night and two the next. Other players like Jeremy Lamb, Andre Roberson, and Thabo Sefolosha have to prove that they too can make some shots consistently.
During the playoffs, OKC started Westbrook at the point even if he's better as an off-ball guard, with Jackson and Derek Fisher coming off the bench to spell him. The problem is, Jackson is also better suited as an off-ball guard, and Fisher is rumored to become a head coach next season. A true point guard will help the offense get on track when they hit a dry spell, and will allow both Westbrook and Jackson to be more comfortable off the ball.
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