Scott Brooks burst onto the scene last season along with his young, upstart Thunder squad. They went from an abysmal season, to racking up 50 wins in a tough Western Conference. All of this contributed to Brooks winning Coach of the Year that season, which seemed to be solidified by the Thunder pushing the soon-to-be-champion Lakers to six games.
This season, the Thunder further improved, reaching 55 wins and rising from the eight-seed last year all the way up to the fourth seed this year. Again, many attributed this not only to the great talent found on the Thunder, but also to Brooks' superb coaching.
However, after watching the Thunder every game throughout these playoffs, I can say with certainty that none of this success should be attributed to Brooks.
First of all, throughout the entire playoffs, there is a recurring theme that I see from Kevin Durant: he doesn't move. Whenever they lose, simply watch Durant and you'll see why. He stands on the wing or in the corner and watches the action, effectively taking himself out of the game.
This is partially his fault, but most of the blame lays at Brooks' feet. Durant sees a minuscule amount of picks during games, if that, forcing him to get himself open and take every defender or double-team on by himself.
When you have a shooter and prolific scorer of Durant's caliber, he should be running off screens the entire game. Brooks should take notes from Doc Rivers on this one. Ray Allen can be seen running off multiple screens on nearly every single possession. This leads to many open shots for him, allowing him to score with tremendous efficiency, even as he ages.
Second, Brooks does not discipline Russell Westbrook. Aside from Game 2 against Dallas, he has not taken any action to correct Westbrook. You can routinely see Westbrook holding the ball for entire possessions and then hoisting up a horrible shot as the shot clock goes off.
These are not isolated occurrences; they actually happen multiple times a game. Brooks needs to let Westbrook now that he has the best scorer in the league on his team. There is no reason why Durant should go consecutive possessions without even touching the ball, and Brooks needs to realize this before it's too late.
Sitting Russell could get the message through to him, as it did in Game 2. In order for them to win, action must be taken to show him that it is hurting the team for him to waste so many possessions.
Lastly, Brooks is wasting a great scorer off the bench in Nate Robinson. Nate has played in only three games throughout the playoffs for a total of 11 minutes. For a player of his caliber, this is simply unacceptable.
He could form an outstanding tandem with James Harden off the bench, providing scoring and energy that Eric Maynor doesn't bring to the table. The decision for Brooks to keep Nate benched is more understandable than his aforementioned transgressions because of his loyalty to Maynor and Nate's immaturity, but I believe that it is hurting the team's chances of winning this series against Dallas.
Overall, when taking a closer look at their team, it does not appear like Brooks is doing a good job at all. Right now, it seems like he is riding the coattails of Durant and Westbrook's success, as he hasn't done much to help this team progress through the playoffs.
He definitely needs to fix some critical flaws in his coaching scheme, or else the Thunder won't have to start thinking about hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy for a long time.
What do you think? Let me know by leaving a comment below.