The OKC Model: A Referendum on Coaching

December 21st, 2012 by Kevin Hetrick

Yeah, I coached Durant and Westbrook. What's it to ya?

At the tail end of the comments for Nate’s article yesterday; Tom, Mallory, and me briefly discussed the “OKC Model”.  To varying degrees, thoughts on the frequency of this model’s success range somewhere between “finding a unicorn” and “eh, let’s wait and see”.

Occasionally though, I do marvel at some of the relatively inane similarities between the OKC and Cleveland re-builds.  For example:

Step #1: Clear house.  Following the 2006 – 2007 season, OKC traded Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.  Beyond the obvious LBJ leaving, Cleveland spent 2010 – 2011 peddling Mo Williams, JJ Hickson, Delonte West, etc

Step #2: With two top-five picks secured, draft a perimeter player that looks poised for superstardom and a forward that appears destined for a more average spot in the NBA constellation (Durant & Kyrie, Jeff Green & TT, for those that aren’t trying very hard).

Step #3: Have another miserable season.

Step #4 With the fourth pick in the next draft, select a sophomore combo-guard praised for defense and transition play.  Ensure the pick surprises most observers.

Step #5: In the same draft, using a late first round pick acquired via trade, draft a big man.

Step #6:  Start the next season miserably.  Fire your coach.  Hire a fresh-faced, untested coach. Turn the season around.

Step #7: Make the playoffs the next year.

Well, the Cavs are midway through step #6.  With five wins and twenty-two losses, they easily surpass OKC’s 3 and 29 start to 2008 – 2009…then the Thunder promptly rallied with 20 wins in their final 50 games.

Step 6b?  The Cavs have not reached that point.  They employ the reigning rookie-of-the-year; the best debuting point guard since Chris Paul.  Acquiring their starting shooting guard was like “hitting the jackpot”.  Starting at Center is a ball-of-energy averaging 14 points and 14 rebounds, rapidly declaring his bid for All-Star status. And currently the Cavs rank bottom-four in the NBA for offense and defense.  The offense frequently acts as “every man for himself”; the fourth lowest share of their field goals are assisted, with the second lowest frequency of possessions including an assist.  Players do not seem to understand their roles.  On defense, they often play catch-up, chasing the opponent around, and ranking fourth-worst for percentage of opponent’s field goals that are assisted (and the opponent is making a lot of field goals).

It’s time to poop or get off the toilet.  After Saturday, Cleveland receives a restful Holiday break.  Starting December 26th, thee next ten games feature Washington, Charlotte and Sacramento.  How about a referendum on the team’s coaching?  Four wins in those ten, or the Cavs look for a new coach?  Then the ten games after that…same thing.

The “OKC Model” has worked once.  Based on their schedule, now is the time for the foundation to start showing signs of becoming a skyscraper.  I don’t know how twitter works, but #TwentyMoreWinsorCavsFindaNewCoach