Advanced Scouting: Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs

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Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs 6:00 CST February 23, 2011

The Spurs take on the explosive, youthful Thunder in San Antonio tonight. The Thunder are currently 4th in the Western Conference standings and could meet up with the Spurs sometime in May. The Spurs would welcome that matchup if it plays out like the season series thus far. The Spurs won 117-104 on November 14 and 101-74 on New Year’s Day. However, despite these results, Oklahoma City possesses a talented team with two legit stars and a quality supporting cast. Check out my advanced scouting report on the Thunder if you haven’t done so already.

The first game saw Matt Bonner drain all 7 three point attempts, while Westbrook converted only 5 of 17 field goals. In both contests, Durant managed only 2 made free throws. The Spurs combined to outscore the Thunder 35-21 in the fast break after numerous missed opportunities for Oklahoma City. San Antonio found success running isolation sets, scoring 31 points in 27 plays over the two games.

The Thunder have one of the most efficient shot creators in the NBA in Kevin Durant. Russell Westbrook has maintained his substantial improvement from last season. Westbrook leads the NBA in self-created shots scored at the rim (according to hoopdata.com):

Player – Unassisted Close Field Goals
Russell Westbrook – 167
Tony Parker – 151
LeBron James – 148
Derrick Rose – 144
Dwyane Wade – 143

All of these players are speedy ball handlers who excel in the open court. It’s ironic that Parker might be considered the “non-athlete” of the bunch at this point in his career. However, he is still able to create what is possibly the most difficult high percentage shot with remarkable frequency.

Key Statistics

SRS ranks:

Oklahoma City: 2.39 (8th)
San Antonio: 6.87 (2nd)

Here is a look at the Thunder players, with (different) statistics courtesy of basketball-reference.com and basketballvalue.com:

PlayerGPMPGUSG%ORtgDRtgWS/48APM
Kevin Durant5039.631.41151080.18412.2
Russell Westbrook5435.631.11111080.1600.8
Serge Ibaka5425.815.21231050.166-2.0
James Harden5425.717.71161080.132-3.7
Jeff Green4737.319.11081100.082-7.2
Thabo Sefolosha5127.29.11121060.092-1.3
Nenad Krstic4521.816.61111100.091-4.9
Nick Collison4520.79.61171090.0979.1
Eric Maynor5414.517.61031110.050-0.3
Daequan Cook1512.814.91081110.065-0.6
Royal Ivey167.1121121090.083N/A
D.J. White239.515.8971060.051N/A


Since basketball-reference updates on a daily basis and basketballvalue updates every other day or so, I may as well also provide a summary of the Spurs player statistics:

PlayerGPMPGUSG%ORtgDRtgWS/48APM
Manu Ginobili5631.026.11161030.2035.2
Tony Parker5632.624.81151060.176-1.2
Tim Duncan5628.723.2109990.1715.9
Richard Jefferson5631.316.21161070.128-0.8
George Hill5027.917.31181050.153-1.0
DeJuan Blair5622.220.1104980.133-0.4
Matt Bonner4022.012.51301070.1614.5
Gary Neal5619.7201081070.100-0.3
Antonio McDyess5118.114.91031010.1052.5
Tiago Splitter4111.217.71101020.139N/A
Chris Quinn356.1161041080.069N/A
James Anderson913.017.51131070.118N/A
Larry Owens74.411.51241010.160N/A
Steve Novak56.613.71431060.212N/A


Player trends:

In addition to player season summary statistics, I wanted to present a barometer for player trends. I temporarily settled on Efficiency per 48 minutes over the team’s last 10 games from hoopstats.com. I wish they used a metric other than efficiency to evaluate players, but hopefully I’ll soon be able to automate a new statistical estimate of value (or predictive value) based on this data. Any way, here are the hottest players on the Thunder based on efficiency per 48 minutes:

PlayerSeasonLast 10Increase
Kevin Durant31.337.15.8
Daequan Cook14.820.55.7
Jeff Green18.720.41.7
James Harden20.321.31
Nenad Krstic2020.70.7
Russell Westbrook31.331.70.4
Eric Maynor17.617.2-0.4
Thabo Sefolosha17.517-0.5
Serge Ibaka27.325.2-2.1
Nick Collison18.515.7-2.8


Cook has only played 15 games this season and his performance has understandably improved after acclimating to the new environment, but Durant’s improvement might be more significant (since he’s also playing more minutes.) Durant started this season productive, but with efficiency figures far below his figures from last season. In the last couple months, Durant has returned to form and perhaps even improved from 2009-10.

Here is a look at the Spurs trending players:

PlayerSeasonLast 10Increase
DeJuan Blair27.930.82.9
Steve Novak20.220.20
Antonio McDyess23.122.8-0.3
Richard Jefferson18.517.3-1.2
Tim Duncan32.931.2-1.7
Tony Parker27.625.9-1.7
George Hill23.121-2.1
Gary Neal18.115.3-2.8
Chris Quinn14.210.8-3.4
Matt Bonner19.415.2-4.2
Manu Ginobili27.922.1-5.8


A quick look at this chart might indicate that the Spurs are falling fast. However, Efficiency and most other statistical estimates, do not adequately value defensive contributions and the Spurs defense has improved throughout the season enough to largely make up for the offensive declines. (Although 7-3 in the last 10 is below the Spurs 2010-11 standards.)

Besides the shift from offense to defense, this chart doesn’t really tell us anything we don’t know. Blair continues to improve and Ginobili has hit a rough patch lately.

Most valuable/utilized lineups:

Thunder:
Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Green, Krstic -6 in 517 minutes (-0.9 per 100 possessions)
Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Green, Ibaka 0 in 244 minutes (+1.0 per 100)
Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Ibaka, Krstic +24 in 122 minutes (+9.9 per 100)

Spurs:
Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson, Blair, Duncan +119 in 616 minutes (+9.1 per 100)
Hill, Neal, Ginobili, Bonner, McDyess +63 in 89 minutes (+37.5 per 100)

The Pick

Spurs

I definitely wouldn’t expect another beatdown for the Spurs, but rest and home court should do them some good. Matchups against playoff teams will result in more hiccups, but the Spurs should win; especially if they win the transition battle again.

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  • rob

    Without proof, I’m sure the RRT and recent b2b’s as well as 4 games in 5 days would account for some of those decreases in effeciency.

    However, Ginobili’s numbers can’t be ignored. That’s a huge drop. Especially coming from an integeral member of the team. Comparatively, it would seem as Ginobili goes, so do the Spurs. Now the same could be said of Duncan and Parker, but, it just goes to show that if any member of the big three are struggling for whatever reason, the Spurs will struggle too. The thing about it…Ginobili isn’t injured. It’s mainly been his shot not falling and seemingly not making veteran decisions while on the court. Also it may appear, if the all star game were proof, that Ginobili may be used differently in these last games of the season with more of a focus on defense and facilitating than scoring.

    I look for a refreshed team in this game. An important start to the next 28 games. Home court advantage…Spurs by 7. 103 to 96 ?

  • ITGuy

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • DorieStreet

    Spurs need to be delieberate and focused–first game in a week, while the Thunder got a head start on the final third of the season, winning by 23 points while resting their two allstars in the 4th quarter. Multiple goals will be accomplished with a win tonight–keeping the home winning streak going, avoid a second losing streak (2 games), sweep the season series against this opponent, and at least keep a 6-game cushion in the western conference race.

  • http://www.babaiepromotions.com Alix Babaie

    I am excited for the stretch run and feel like the Spurs can start to impose their will and continue to make a statement.

    Now, although off the subject a bit….has anyone read what dumbass Jason Terry has flapped his gums about with regard to our beloved S&B?

    http://sports.espn.go.com/dallas/nba/news/story?id=6148755

    This guy is a complete idiot. The next ring the Mavs win will be their first one!

    I know that it appears that Pop and Co. do not feel the need for bulletin board material but I would definitely have this on the greaseboard during the post season.

  • Mr. International

    Here we go folks. Post-All-Star-break-stretch-run-basketball. Team defense, ball movement, and efficiency will get us to the Western Finals.

    Oh yeah, and Deron Williams being in the Eastern Conference now (thanks, Nets!!) will help. How much must Tony and Pop loooove that news.

  • SAJKinBigD

    Ugh. All the Mavs, their fans and their Owner do is TALK. Quit flapping your gums and play, you putz. They do worry me some, more than ever before, with their newfound defensive intensity and the fact that Carlisle seems to have really gained control of this team and is guiding them by his vision instead of each individual’s vision. I still think we can take them in a series in which we have HCA, but it’ll be tougher than last year’s First Round Meeting. Chandler is the key after Nowitzki.

  • Tyler

    On the bright side, both the Carmelo and Williams trades soften the bottom of the West. Assuming the Spurs are a #1 or 2 seed going into the playoffs, this could mean an easier, less exhausting 1st round series.

  • http://espn.com texasj

    now that the d-will to nets trade has been done and favors is in utah is there a possibilty that the spurs may try to send a couple players to utah in exchange for him? I know he is a future building block and may be hard to separate him, but a splitter anderson plus picks deal for favors deal seems like a good one considering neither of those 2 guys are getting any pt. would be good for immediate frontcourt depth and future timmy d replacement. you think utah would consider it? …any thoughts??

  • Tim
  • junierizzle

    I wouldn’t worry about MAnu, he’s just not 26 anymore. It’s good that he is having a rough stretch now and not in the playoffs. Hey look at KOBE, he has stunk recently too.

    I suspect Manu has also been saving himself. He hasn’t been attacking the rim like he used to. He’s saving it for the 2nd half/playoffs. I think he’ll have a 2nd half similar to last season.

  • TD = Best EVER

    Ya Melo/Willams both leaving the West is a good thing. But their teams COULD be better off for it. They are both deeper now and still have players that can give us trouble though I suspect we would have beaten either team in 6 anyway.

    In other news, Troy Murphy was just traded to Golden State for Dan Gazuic and Brandon Wright(A guy SA should have looked into) so that may take him off the market………

  • SAJKinBigD

    Ok, is it just me or is this crazy “Let’s ALL Go EAST” movement (and trades) just setting up to keep the Spurs, Mavs and Lakers basically on top a few extra years, at least? Truly, the Thunder are the only other Western team with a solid foundation right now outside the Big Three. The funny thing is the West is still a deeper conference than the East, but the top of the East is really solid.

  • Bruno

    Mr.Anderson is back to San Antonio!!

  • SAJKinBigD

    Yay! Go NEO! Thanks for the info, Bruno!
    Can’t wait to get this final portion of the regular season rolling and see what adjustments we’ll be making to finish strong and hold Home Court Ad throughout the playoffs.

  • AS

    @TDBE

    GS will buy out Murphy. He’s considering signing with Boston, Miami or Orlando.

  • jwalt

    I would be worried about Manu if the team was not doing well when he’s on the court. But his +/- scores in the last five games says just the opposite, he’s been the most productive player on the team (if HOW THE TEAM DOES is the criteria).

    Relax. He has shot the ball miserably lately. But he has not played poorly.

  • Sam

    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=4pgv3to

    A trade that i think would be a good idea in the offseason. Also Portland would receive two number one picks (one from spurs and a 2013 from charlotte) and a 2013 second round from spurs

  • Bruno

    Uff!!Spurs win!!Neal have a great game, TD too

  • betsyduncan

    I’m just glad that our guys decided that they wanted the win more than OKC did.

  • grego

    @jwalt – the biggest problem is they’ll need that scoring Manu in the post season. Role players don’t always show up in the post season. Your stars are supposed to.

    I think if Pop gives Manu more rest, he’ll get some of his offense back.

    I think if Manu came off he bench Pop could shave some minutes off of Manu’s duties of starting 2/backup PG. He also has more chance to develop rhythm/be the primary scorer in the 2nd unit.