Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks has come under fire time and again for his offense, and he recently answered the critics.
In an interview with Bleacher Report, Brooks was told that some NBA scouts say he runs a fairly simple offense “Featuring Kevin and Russell in three main pick-and-roll sets: Rub (top of the key), Angle (on the side) and Horns (two screeners at the elbows).”
“How hard is it to find the offensive balance between your elite scoring duo and the rest of the team?” he was asked.
“There’s no question you can spin the numbers any way you want, but I look at the fact that we’ve won a lot of games and our offense has been in the top five the last few years. But I’ve challenged the guys: ‘Let’s change how we score,’ because in 2011-12 we were 30th in assists and we’ve improved every year,” Brooks responded.
“Our goal this year was to get in the top 10; it hasn’t happened because it’s an asterisk season for us with injuries. We’ve always wanted to be a high-scoring team, but implement more screening and passing. And Kevin and Russell stepped up. We like to call it more of an attack-spots-on-the-floor offense.
“Trust me, it drives me crazy when they do dribble too many times, and we’ve worked to correct that behavior. I’ve told them, ‘Think of better ways to score without using the dribble as much.’ We’re not where we want to be, but we’ve definitely gotten better.”
Brooks has coached the Thunder for six seasons prior to the current one, during which time they’ve reached the NBA finals once–losing in five games to the Miami Heat–and made the Western Conference finals two other times.
He has faced vocal criticism from scouts, writers, and others over the years, particularly after the 2014 playoffs.
“It’s become increasingly clear — while watching the Thunder in their series against the Memphis Grizzlies, while watching play after play break down because of a borderline criminal lack of secondary action, while watching Durant and Westbrook play ‘your turn, my turn’ with the offense for minutes at a time, while watching the same late-game sets they’ve been running for years and that everyone and their mother knows are coming—that Brooks has taken this team as far as he can, that this is the end of the line, and that it’s time to move on,” wrote one of these writers, Jared Dubin of Grantland, last year.
“In short, Brooks is Oklahoma City’s Doug Collins, and general manager Sam Presti needs to set about finding Durant his Phil Jackson.”
Depending on how this season ends, Brooks could be out of a job. The Thunder are currently three games out of a playoff spot, although they have dealt with numerous injuries. But even if they make the playoffs, a quick exit could leave the door open for someone else to take over for what could be Durant’s final season in OKC. Who would step in? Well, George Karl said this week that he wants to coach one last time.