Skip to content

Thunder likely to tweak Durant’s substitution pattern

Nov 16, 2012, 1:57 PM EDT

Kevin Durant, Scott Brooks

In the Thunder’s loss to the Grizzlies on Wednesday, Kevin Durant played 44 minutes, and Russell Westbrook played 42. That’s some pretty heavy usage for the team’s two All-Stars, and it’s something that’s not likely to be sustainable over the course of an 82-game season.

With James Harden‘s playmaking ability gone from the second unit, however, it’s tough to find ways around that, especially when you consider Scott Brooks’ propensity to almost always play Durant and Westbrook in lineups together at the same time.

The two were both absent from the lineup for just four minutes against Memphis, and Durant (obviously) played those two extra minutes without Westbrook by his side.

Those heavy minutes can’t continue, and Oklahoma City needs to find lineup combinations that maximize effectiveness, while getting its superstar players some much-needed rest. It’s something Brooks is aware of, and he’s beginning to look at changing his substitution patterns to try and help the situation.

From Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman:

Brooks is in the process of plotting that transformation, and he has a plan that could work. It’s an adjustment that has the potential to bring more balance to the bench unit while establishing additional harmony in the star-studded first string.

The idea is to sub out Kevin Durant earlier.

It’s a strategy Brooks told me following practice today that the coaching staff began kicking around earlier in the day.

By sitting Durant earlier, the Thunder can accomplish three things: most importantly a more sensible rotation that relies less on only Eric Maynor and Kevin Martin to create, secondly, an opportunity for Westbrook to run as wild as his heart desires for longer stretches and, lastly, more rest for Durant.

Mayberry does an excellent job of digging deeper into how this could all shake out, but the short version is, staggering Durant’s minutes is a solid solution to the issue. He and Westbrook are both capable of creating for themselves and their teammates, as well as scoring on their own and in bunches. It only makes sense to spread the wealth across multiple lineups instead of always featuring the two on the court at the same time.

There will be an adjustment period to each playing without the other for extended stretches, but it’ll likely be best for the Thunder in the long run if they want to maximize the talent on the roster and position themselves for another run at the Finals.

With Harden’s scoring and playmaking gone forever, it’s time OKC began to make the necessary adjustments.

Latest Posts
  1. Chris Bosh says he was ‘close’ to leaving the Heat in free agency

    Aug 1, 2014, 12:05 AM EDT

    Chris Bosh AP

    Bosh was very close to leaving Miami in free agency,

  2. Klay Thompson, Kyle Korver engage in three-point shooting contest at USA Basketball mini-camp (VIDEO)

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Klay Thompson and Kyle Korver engaged in a shooting contest at USA Basketball mini-camp in Vegas.

  3. Rosters announced for USA Basketball Showcase Friday night in Las Vegas

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:05 PM EDT

    2014 USA Basketball Men's National Team Practice Getty Images

    Mason Plumlee and DeMarcus Cousins will be on opposing teams in Friday’s exhibition.

  4. Report: Mason Plumlee likely to make Team USA roster over DeMarcus Cousins

    Jul 31, 2014, 8:01 PM EDT

    Phoenix Suns v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    USA roster has more than enough talent, so it can afford to sacrifice some to get positive attitudes in place.

  5. Kobe Bryant destroys some young fans in China in one-on-one (VIDEO)

    Jul 31, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT

    Kobe Bryant Kobe Bryant

    It’s the memory of a lifetime… even if you get embarrassed.

  6. Report: Lakers contact Robert Horry about becoming assistant coach

    Jul 31, 2014, 5:11 PM EDT

    Horry puts shot up Getty Images

    Mark Madsen and Paul Pressey also reportedly candidates for Byron Scott’s staff

  7. John Wall’s goal for Wizards next season: ‘The Finals’

    Jul 31, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Washington Wizards Getty Images

    Wall raising expectations after Wizards met last season’s playoff goal

  8. Gary Payton on becoming an assistant coach: “I’m getting interested now”

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:51 PM EDT

    Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony - Press Conference Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony - Press Conference

    As tight as he is with Kidd, do you really think Payton would choose Milwaukee over Los Angeles?

  9. Bucks sign Jerryd Bayless, Johnny O’Bryant

    Jul 31, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT

    Jerryd Bayless Jerryd Bayless

    Milwaukee, with Damien Inglis in limbo, now facing roster crunch

  10. Chandler Parsons, James Harden patch things up

    Jul 31, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT

    Chandler Parsons, James Harden Chandler Parsons, James Harden

    Like most “feuds,” once two rational people sit down and talk for a minute, everything dissipates.

  11. Kevin Durant says he’s deleting Twitter from his phone

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

    Kevin Durant Kevin Durant

    That means he’s signing with the Wizards, right?

  12. Report: Will Cherry to sign with Raptors

    Jul 31, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    Montana v Syracuse Getty Images

    Barring another move, Toronto down to one roster spot for Lucas Nogueira or DeAndre Daniels

  13. Anthony Davis steps into spotlight, is Team USA’s lynchpin

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:41 AM EDT

    2014 USA Basketball Practice Getty Images

    “We think he’s one of the top players in the league and we need for him to be that five that nobody has.” —Mike Krzyzewski on Anthony Davis

  14. Referee Violet Palmer comes out publicly as gay

    Jul 31, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Sacramento Kings v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Palmer to marry celebrity hair stylist Tanya Stine

Featured video

Why can't Lakers have a player-coach?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (4069)
  2. K. Love (4001)
  3. D. Rose (3776)
  4. K. Bryant (2649)
  5. R. Allen (2325)
  1. C. Anthony (2190)
  2. K. Durant (2135)
  3. B. Griffin (2001)
  4. E. Bledsoe (1984)
  5. D. Wade (1879)