Memo to Scott Brooks: Go Small

Getty Images

Getty Images


To:                  Scott Brooks

From:              Michael Sykes

Date:               May 5, 2013

Subject:          Your Lineups

Scott, over the years you’ve coached the Oklahoma City Thunder, obviously, and have been beaten by bigger teams. The organization traded for Kendrick Perkins and ever since you’ve been hellbent on playing him even though the league has evolved in that short time since.

Now you’re in the playoffs without one of your best players in Russell Westbrook. I won’t insult your intelligence by telling you that you obviously need him–who doesn’t? What I am going to say is that you’re going about trying to replace his production in the wrong way. Traditional lineups are not going to cut it here, Scott.

Your starting five of Reggie Jackson, Kevin Durant, Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins has a net rating of -43.6 in 66 minutes of play throughout seven playoff games. This is also your most used lineup as far as minutes go, so having them all on the floor together at one time jeopardizes your team in a major way.

Your second best lineup in this postseason without Russell Westbrook consists of the following players:

  • Reggie Jackson
  • Kevin Durant
  • Derek Fisher
  • Serge Ibaka
  • Thabo Sefolosha

This lineup has a 46.5 net rating throughout the playoffs but they’ve only played 35 minutes together. This is over 100 points better than your current starting lineup–consider starting this lineup instead of the one that you start currently. You notice that there is only one true big man in this lineup. There is no coincidence to that. Your smaller lineups are doing the trick offensively and defensively.

There’s also a lineup sans Reggie Jackson that features those same players with Kevin Martin on the floor. This is your best lineup offensively with over 15 minutes played so far in this postseason. That lineup has an offensive rating of 134 and a net rating of 16.9.

Kevin Martin doesn’t like to defend, so this is a lineup that you should consider giving significant time to in quarterly spurts. You only used this lineup once in the second quarter last night and it was highly productive for you.

I understand that the Grizzlies may outrebound you with these lineups, but they are outrebounding you anyway. The rebounding battle isn’t a battle that you will win and surely you know that. You have to pick and choose your battles in the playoffs sometimes and destroy teams with what you know you can control.

You know that even without Russell Westbrook you have the better offensive team in this series.

Using Kevin Durant as a point guard is a very nice tactic by you and I applaud that. However, you must effectively put him in situations that will result in offensive success. That means surrounding him with floor spacers and letting the ball move.

Look at the clip below featuring the lineup that I referred to earlier with Kevin Martin. With no solid point guard on the floor, Kevin Durant is playing the role of a ball handler. He attracts an ultra-aggressive Grizzlies defense and makes the smart pass to Sefolosha. The ball then gets do Derek Fisher for a corner three–one of the better shots you can get in this league.

By the way, this 4-2 pick and roll thing that they have going works really well. They’re attacking the crossmatch in the right way. If you recall, the team struggled with that last June. I was hoping you’d implement this same strategy then as well.

I have another clip for you where the Grizzlies aggressive defense leads to them losing floor balance defensively. Take a look:

Jerryd Bayless ends up under the rim with Serge Ibaka because you used Kevin Durant on a simple high pick and roll. He stays patient with his dribble here while advancing the ball toward the baseline from the right wing and then he strikes with a pinpoint pass leading to a dunk.

If you notice, there was no help because of floor spacers. Take a look:

Ibaka dunk

The guys who should be chucking Ibaka rolling into the lane are occupied because of the shooters that you have on the floor–none of which can be left. And with Zach Randolph on Thabo Sefolosha there is one less big for you to worry about in the lane.

All in all, I recommend that you go small for future championships. You have one of the best players in the league and he can play multiple positions. There was a team that won a championship that same way last season and you can do. I hope that you strongly consider my recommendation for the good of the organization and my own personal health.


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