Reputation Keeping Scott Brooks Down

January 5, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks (right) instructs forward Kevin Durant (35) during the second quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
January 5, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks (right) instructs forward Kevin Durant (35) during the second quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

In the race for the National Basketball Association’s Coach of the Year award, the only thing keeping Scott Brooks from the top of everyone’s list is his reputation.

Seriously, think about it. A team in the ridiculously tough Western Conference featuring two superstar players is expected to contend for a title.

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First one superstar goes down at the start of the year. Then another. Then a key backup goes down. Meanwhile, other playoff contenders gear up with free agent signings. Yet another contender is now featuring a legitimate MVP candidate.

The superstars come back into the lineup, but never look quite right. One of them leaves again, this time for good. Another borderline All-Star player goes down for the season. There is a big mid-season trade that shakes up the roster.

Yet, through it all, this team never falters, stays in the playoff race, and is now the favorite to make into the postseason.

If that narrative came from the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, or pretty much any other team, there would be people writing about how great a coaching job is being done.

However, because that team is the Oklahoma City Thunder, with favorite media target Scott Brooks as coach, there is barely a peep about the ridiculously good job Brooks has done this year as coach.

Reigning Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant has missed 42 of a possible 69 games this year. And when he has been on the court, he has not always been at full strength. Now, there is word that he will most likely miss the rest of the season.

His partner on the court, All-Star Russell Westbrook has also missed time, sitting out 15 games this season. Between the two players, they have been on the bench for 57 games.

To make things worse, Serge Ibaka, often regarded as their third-best player, recently underwent knee surgery and will be out up to six weeks. He has already been lost for five games and might not be back in time for the playoffs.

Even some of the lesser-known players have been hit with the injury bug. Durant’s backup, Perry Jones III, was playing well at the start of the season while Durant was in street clothes. Then, as if the team were cursed, Jones went down with a knee injury.

According to, Oklahoma City is sixth in the NBA this year in the number of games lost due to injury. The teams ahead of the Thunder? Minnesota, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, and Houston. Only the Rockets could even make an argument as to facing the same situation the Thunder have.

Even then, the Rockets have only missed one superstar, in Dwight Howard. It has not only been injuries, either.

As the NBA trade deadline got closer and closer, Thunder general manager Sam Presti decided a change needed to be made. He shipped out point guard Reggie Jackson and center Kendrick Perkins for point guard D.J. Augustin, forward Kyle Singler and big man Enes Kanter.

Now suddenly, Brooks had to incorporate a new starter and rework his bench rotations. Jackson was a quality guard and Perkins is well known for his strong locker-room presence. The trade was a major shakeup.

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  • Amid all of this, Oklahoma City has also had the distraction of a former player getting MVP consideration in the Houston’s James Harden.

    We all know about the Harden trade, and how the media hated the deal (and still hates it). Oklahoma City has had to answer questions about Harden all season while their own MVP has been on the bench.

    Even with the injuries, the Harden distraction,  and the new faces via trade, Brooks kept the team playing hard and in the playoff hunt. As of today, the Thunder are two full games ahead of ninth place New Orleans, and three full games ahead of tenth place Phoenix.

    The Thunder rank first in total rebounding, seventh in points per game, second in opponents field goal percentage, and sixth in free throws attempted per game. This is a team that is good on both ends of the floor and its time that some of the credit gets passed onto the maligned Brooks.

    Brooks has done the best job this year in the NBA as far as coaching, and I am not sure his competition is really all that close. Stop hating on Brooks over his reputation from prior seasons. Give credit where credit is due.

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