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OKC Thunder: The Book on Brooks: Five strengths and weaknesses of Scott Brooks

The Thunder fired Scott Brooks on Wednesday after nearly seven seasons as head coach. He went 338-207, made three appearances in the Western Conference Finals in the past four years and even took the team to the 2012 NBA Finals -- but he could never get the Thunder over the hump to a title.

Here's a look at his biggest strengths and his biggest weaknesses:


1. Connection with players: By all accounts, Brooks had great rapport with his players. One of the most important duties as an NBA head coach is handling the personalities -- and egos -- of the players. Brooks was a master at that.

2. Player development: The exhibit list is long. Serge Ibaka. Reggie Jackson. Steven Adams. James Harden. Russell Westbrook. All made tremendous strides under Brooks and his staff. Sure, the players get credit for getting in the gym and bettering themselves, but Brooks gets credit, too.

3. Consistency: Brooks helped to create a culture of success within the franchise, largely because of his consistent ways. He preached going to work and getting better every day. No shortcuts. Just hard work. Players always knew what they were going to get out of him, too, which is a huge comfort to pro athletes.

4. No excuses: There were lots of times over the past few seasons that Brooks could've made excuses. Westbrook gets knocked out of the playoffs in 2013. Ibaka misses crucial playoff games in 2014. Then, this season's plague of injures. But Brooks just put his head down and kept going. His team responded in kind. Didn't always lead to success, but you never saw the Thunder lay down.

5. Postseason success: In playoff series, Brooks was 8-5. By comparison, Doc Rivers is 8-6 in the past six seasons and Gregg Popovich is 10-5 over the same period. And when Brooks had his full team, he made the NBA Finals.


1. Postseason failure: Brooks didn't get the Thunder to a title. It was the only mountain the team failed to climb, but it is the main reason he's no longer the Thunder's coach.

2. Lack of offensive philosophy: Obviously, the Thunder had an offensive philosophy under Brooks, but lots of times it looked like it was to give the ball to Durant or Westbrook and get out of the way. Ball movement too often lacked, especially in crunch time against other elite teams. The Thunder had much better ball movement this past preseason, but when the injury plague hit, that was lost in the scramble.

3. Late-game coaching: Brooks' late-game sets left plenty to be desired. Sure, the Thunder had plenty of last-second game winners under Brooks, but often, they looked like the product of super-human plays being made by Durant or Westbrook, not the product of a well-designed play.

4. Inflexibility: While consistency was one of Brooks' strengths, sticking too long with problematic rotations was a weakness. Maybe the problem was recognition. Maybe it was stubbornness. Whatever the case, it cost the Thunder on occasion. Brooks improved as time went along -- sitting Kendrick Perkins against the Heat or swapping Jackson for Thabo Sefolosha in last year's playoffs -- but that inflexibility on rotations was a consistent bugaboo.

5. On-court discipline: For all the Thunder's talent, it has regularly lacked discipline on the court. Yes, this was and still is a young team, but there were times when Brooks needed better control. Giving Westbrook too much rope was the biggest problem. Russ has largely matured, and that issue has resolved itself, but still, there were times when Brooks needed to rein in Westbrook, which would've reined in the rest of the team.

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Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›