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Scouting The Thunder: Starting Unit Not A Concern, But Watch Out For Harden, Small Ball

The Dallas Mavericks try to grab their first winning streak today since they lost to the Knicks on February, 19th, while the Thunder saw their own streak snapped against the Hawks on Saturday. They had won seven in a row before that. I'll be posting my statistical preview some time later, but here are some interesting facts that won't appear there:

  • Surprisingly, the Thunder rank only 15th in Efficiency Differential (+0.38) with their starting group on the floor, scoring 98.20 Points Per 100 Possessions and allowing 97.82. They average the highest amount of turnovers among starting units (20.22 P100) and the fewest assists (16.76). Losing Thabo Sefolosha has additionally hurt. With him, the starting group outscored the opponents 538-497 on 88.66 DefEff, replace him with Daequan Cook and it's 424-451 and 105.05 PP100.
    That especially showed over their last five games, in which the starting group could only outscore the opponent once (against the Lakers).
  • The most played 2-man unit off the bench is James Harden and Nick Collison, and it's an overly successful duo. Collison sets the screens for Harden in the pick and roll and both have a nice chemistry going. Therefore it's not surprising that the Thunder outscore their opponents by +9.59 PP100 with both on the floor. The pressure will be on Lamar Odom and Jason Terry (or Rodrigue Beaubois) to contain the deadly P&R. It gets even more dangerous when OKC adds a good 3-point shooter to the mix. Harden provides penetration and will find him: With Daequan Cook and Harden on the floor, they shoot 41.38% 3FG. The good news is: Cook has only shot 28.57% 3FG against the Mavs this season (2-of-7).
  • Oklahoma owns a dangerous small ball lineup with Harden at the SF spot and Durant playing power forward. They outscore their opponents by +22.67 PP100 on 122.65 OffEff and Lamar Odom might be the better choice over Dirk Nowitzki matching up with them in that case on the defensive end.