I am happy to say that I was able to do a brief Q&A with out friend J.A. Sherman over at Welcome To Loud City, to get an insider look at the Oklahoma City Thunder. Of course seeing as the Thunder are arguably the best team in the NBA right now, I wanted to get his thoughts on whether or not there is a weakness on what seems to be a picture-perfect team. I also wanted to get his take on Russell Westbrook, who has really elevated his game over the past month, and their latest acquisition, Derek Fisher.
Sherman gave us some great insight into a team who if we want to make it to the NBA Finals, we're going to have to get through first. Yikes!
3.) We had at least toyed with the idea of bringing in Derek Fisher once he was bought out by the Rockets, but, alas, he wound up in OKC. Was that the move your team needed to make, or can was it, as some might speculate, a move made to almost "block" him from going to another contending team?
From a personnel standpoint, the biggest weakness the Thunder had this season was when they lost backup PG to a knee injury. His injury forced the Thunder to insert newly drafted rookie Reggie Jackson into the backup PG spot and learn through trial by fire. It had been a difficult transition. The biggest issue was that Jackson was often way too deferential to his talented veteran teammates, and his job requirement was essentially, "don't screw up this title run." You might concur that this is a lofty and probably unfair assignment for any rookie, but a PG rookie in particular.
As a result, Jackson's performance has been inconsistent as he has learned the ropes. It probably has not helped him much that the season is truncated, because it has meant much less practice time, less minutes, and less time to spend with his teammates. In a different season, Jackson might find himself ready for the playoff grind, a duration of games that is about triple of any one season he played in college. This season, however, his inconsistency could get exposed by an intelligent defense.
The Fisher acquisition is a logical one, as he has the rings, the wisdom, the personal cache, and all that. What he does not have though is his youth. Fisher brings a steady hand, but as we saw when he got extended minutes against the Timberwolves, his contribution does not scale well. Fisher will work well as a 'glue' guy who keeps the ball moving, doesn't turn over possessions, and sets up the right guys. However, if he is put in a position where he must make key defensive stops or stroke clutch jumpers, the Thunder will find themselves in trouble.
For more, check out Welcome to Loud City