Thunder defensive specialists. Sefolosh, Krstic, and Collison.
Fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder are flabbergasted over their terrible start this year, but there might be one remedy for turning this thing around before it's too late, and that, my friends, means playing better defense.
Charles Barkley commented during one of the TNT telecasts last week that "The Thunder will continue to lose to the good teams until they start to play better defense."
Berry Tramel and Jenni Carlson, two local sportswriters for The Oklahoman covering the Thunder, also chimed in on this discussion and agreed that playing lousy defense is at the top of the list of Thunder woes this year.
Tramel asked, "Would somebody please take a charge? Is Nick Collison the only one on this team that will take a charge?"
Carlson added, "The Thunder played good team defense last season but we are not seeing that this year."
Jeff Green, one of the Thunder's better defenders, had his 104th-straight-game-played-without-an-injury streak broken the other night against the Celtics. Nick Collison, a scrappy veteran who is arguably their best defender, is still out with an injury.
The Thunder obviously missed Green the other night and they miss Collison too, but they still have other good defenders suited up and ready to play like second-year center Serge Ibaka and veteran two-guard Thabo Sefolosha.
Seflosha, is a veteran lock-down two-guard similar to a lock-down cornerback in football. He has been praised for his defensive prowess, but his overall performance has been somewhat hampered by the fact that he did not score a single point in two of the Thunder's first six games.
If the Thunder are going to compete for a Western Conference title, they will need a few more points to go along with exceptional defense from their starting two-guard.
Another observation that has been a topic of discussion regarding the problems that the Thunder is having this season is that the General Manager Sam Presti didn't bring in better off-season acquisitions as the missing pieces to help a Durant/Westbrook/Green core nucleus take it to the next level.
Presti has been called one of the best GMs in the NBA for the front-office job that he did in prior years by assembling this young progressive Thunder team. But this team is still one or two missing links away from getting to the second round of the playoffs this year and even duplicating what they did last year after winning over 50 games and taking the Lakers to six games in the first round of last year's playoffs.
The Utah Jazz, a rival within the Northwest Division, added a marquee player like Al Jefferson to their mix when all the Thunder added was Daequan Cook and rookie Cole Aldridge.
The fact of the matter is the Thunder need more consistent production from the center position and need to play better defense if they plan to keep the personnel that they currently have and win as many games as they did last year.
The Thunder aren't going to slip up on teams this year, as everyone is quite familiar with Durant and Westbrook and the expectation level that has been put on this year's team.