Game On: Hornets @ Thunder

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Published: February 20, 2012

In the West, First takes on Worst. I give you the keys to a Hornets victory.

Generally speaking most good teams are good at a few things on the court and average when it comes to most of the rest of the aspects of the game. That small edge makes them great. Not so the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder are a bad defensive rebounding team, posting the 26th lowest rate. They rarely get assists, posting the fourth worst Assist Rate in the game. The have the worst turnover rate in the entire league, giving the ball away on 16% of their possessions.

What, then, gives them a 23-7 record, you ask? Simple. They shoot the ball really, really well, and draw free throws really, really well. OKC owns the second highest eFG% in the league, shooting 51.77%. They also post the second highest Free Throw rate in the league, earning .35 free throws for every shot they take. On the other end of the floor, Opponents shoot a bit below average and draw a bit a few less free throws than average.

Even more problematic, the Thunder aren’t good at one type of shot that they specialize in, giving your team a clear focus. They aren’t Denver at the rim, or Orlando from deep. Instead, they are better than average at shooting every type of shot, from at the rim, to mid-range, to three-pointers.

So the keys to Victory?

  1. Don’t foul.  Harden, Durant and Westbrook like to draw fouls on pump fakes.  Stay down.  Arms straight up.  If they can keep the free throw attempts under 22, they have a chance.
  2. Crash the offensive boards.  The Thunder will give up offensive rebounds.  Take them.
  3. Shade off of Westbrook.  Give him the mid-range shot.  Westbrook wants to shoot a lot.  Let him.  He’s a much better option for the Hornets than Harden or Durant.

Enjoy the Game!