NBA / May 17, 2013 / 1:06 pm

Don’t Blame Kevin Durant For the Thunder’s Playoff Exit, Blame Scott Brooks

Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook

Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook (photo. Rob Hammer)

Whenever something in sports doesn’t go according to plan, we as fans are quick to place blame. The easy way to explain why the Oklahoma City Thunder couldn’t get back to the Western Conference Finals, much less the NBA Finals, would be to blame Kevin Durant for not being able to carry his team to the next round. Let’s take a deeper look before placing blame.

What became of the Thunder the second Russell Westbrook‘s meniscus tore falls on many parts of the organization.

I think that Scott Brooks was exposed in the series with the Memphis Grizzlies, even more so than he was in last year’s NBA Finals. He made absolutely zero adjustments once Russell Westbrook went down, showing us he never even thought about about a contingency plan in case one of his stars got injured. His offense essentially became Kevin Durant isolations, which was likely not going to win the Memphis series, no matter ho well KD played.

Essentially it was breaking away from their usual offense and becoming a “Kevin, create whatever you can for us offensively, take a tough shot, drive and kick, quick three, whatever you’re feeling” offense. Brooks did nothing to put Kevin Martin, Serge Ibaka or Reggie Jackson in any position to succeed, individually, or as a unit.

I was of the belief that after last year’s NBA Finals, whether the Thunder organization knew it at the time or not, that Scott Brooks was on his way out. The way he was overmatched by a coach we previously thought of as inferior in Erik Spoelstra stood out like Dwyane Wade‘s capri pants.

After last season, OKC GM Sam Presti couldn’t fire a coach that took his team to the NBA Finals. This season Brooks has the excuse that Westbrook was hurt. It won’t be long down the road, however, until Sam Presti will exercise his options. There’s no way he doesn’t; Sam’s just too smart to not see the misfires.

A couple of weeks ago, right after Westbrook went down, I wrote about how Russell’s absence exposed the James Harden trade in a whole new light.

In the column, I talked about how behind closed doors, I’m willing to bet that the people in OKC’s camp who were involved in pulling the trigger on the deal would admit that they didn’t know James Harden would be this good.

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  • Neo.Y

    Durant went 5-21 in game 5, he missed bunch open shots, missed free throws down the stretch, missed all four 3pt attempts, missed the OPEN SHOT at the end of the game and you put all the blame on Scott Brooks because he doesn’t have a contingency plan when his 2nd(arguably) best player, who’s never missed a game since high school goes down.
    I’m a Memphis fan, but i think you are being very unfair and bias and you are making Scott Brooks the scapegoat when in reality, everyone on the OKC squad should take their share of the responsibility, especially Durant.

  • DimeMag

    it’s interesting, we’ve been getting a lot of different opinions on this and a lot of them have surprised us. there haven’t been as many people agreeing with bryan’s opinion of brooks as we thought there would be, and there have been waaay more people echoing your thoughts, especially regarding durant.