A lot of fans and pundits thought that Brooks heavily underachieved during the last portion of his tenure. The common though is that a team led by superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook should have been winning AT LEAST the Western Conference on a yearly basis. Division titles were merely considered stepping stones.
There is also a portion of fans (and maybe a few pundits) that believe Brooks did the best that he could given the competitive nature of the Western Conference. Besides, the Thunder did win consecutive Northwest Division titles (2009-2013) before this season.
While I am one to believe that if one does not aim high he/she might as well sit on that ass and don’t even try, I am leaning toward the latter of the aforementioned views of Brooks.
Follow me for a minute.
Before Brooks took over as the full-time head coach in 2009 (he was an interim after PJ Carlesimo got canned the season before), the Thunder finished 23-59 in its first season as the team formerly known as the Seattle SuperSonics. The 2009-2010 team finished 50-32, and the Thunder had increased their wins and prestige the following seasons before this year’s injury-marred campaign.
And while he led the Thunder to only one NBA Finals appearance in 2012, the following kept Brooks from attaining the team’s lofty goals of yearly Finals appearances:
- OKC lost in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual NBA champion (Dallas in 2011, San Antonio last season).
- OKC lost to Memphis in the second round of the playoffs sans Westbrook (knee injury).
- OKC failed to qualify for the playoffs this season largely due to injuries to Durant, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. Durant missed damn near close to half the season.
Didn’t seem like the actions of such a horrible coach.
There is no shame to losing to the likes of Rick Carlisle (Dallas) and Gregg Popovich (San Antonio) in the playoffs, as they are two of the top three coaches in the NBA (Doc Rivers is the third of that group). There is also no shame in not getting to the Finals out of the Western Conference because, well, it’s the Western Conference!
I think that Brooks will stay unemployed for a millisecond, as teams like the Orlando Magic would love to have a coach who could communicate with and relate to younger players the way Brooks did in OKC. He is also an underrated developer of said young talent.
Hell, my Knicks could use Brooks’ services right about now…