Do the Thunder really force defenses to change their usual tactics?
We can actually measure this!
A couple weeks back, I saw a quote from Oklahoma City Thunder coach Mark Daigneault that really intrigued me. Daigneault was asked about how opponents had been defending his squad lately, sagging off of certain players and aggressively hounding others and just generally doing all kinds of weird stuff in an attempt to strangle OKC’s halfcourt offense.
Daigneault went on a bit of a soliloquy in response, but the two parts of his answer that interested me the most were as follows:
"I look at it as, it's a compliment to our offense that we're seeing that now. And in the last four games, Minnesota — we score 60 points on the best half-court defense in the league, they zone us in the second half. Could've handled it better. Dallas, we're up by 20, they start double-teaming all over the place. Could've handled it better. Last night, cross-match onto Josh [Giddey], switch with Chet [Holmgren]. Could've handled it better. But those are, to me that's like the natural course that you have to go through. You have to go through those struggles to evolve."
“It’s the first time that we’ve had a good enough offense that we’re seeing the kitchen sink. And now that we’re seeing the kitchen sink, we have to improve.”
You can see the entire answer here:
Naturally, I got curious. Are teams actually throwing the kitchen sink at the Thunder defensively? Are they actually junking their standard defensive scheme more often against OKC than they do against other opponents? Luckily, that’s something that can actually be measured these days.