The Thunder are stuck. Pretty sure we can all agree. Now, the reasons for the floundering start are varied, but it’s safe to say, the team has gotten off to a miserable start.
And it’s also safe to say the Thunder are in a bad spot.
There’s definitely a way out of it, though and it’s fixable.
The answer is in San Antonio. It’s right there on the Spurs’ bench and she’s wearing heels. The Thunder should hire Becky Hammon.
No, the Thunder shouldn’t hire a woman, just because. This isn’t about making a token move. The Thunder should hire Hamon because she’s a catalyst with a lot of reward and little risk. This team is loaded with stars, yet lacking direction. Hiring Hammon fixes that.
For years, the Thunder have modeled themselves after the Spurs from the front office to the floor, the way they handle media to the ownership group. What better way to continue that trend than to hire a qualified assistant who has worked in the San Antonio system? And an assistant who worked for a coach in Gregg Popovich who has, for years, figured out how to get players of all skills, shapes, sizes and colors to buy into a system – a system that wins titles.
That’s what Oklahoma City needs.
At 8-12, the Thunder are at a tipping point this season. Win big, and there’s a chance OKC could somehow retain its stars for next season. But a continuation of this current trend would be devastating and could lead to a repeat of last year when they were led by an All-Star, yet was a non-factor in the championship conversation. There’s a sense of apathy surrounding this team. It didn’t show up against Dallas, got blown out at lowly Orlando. Its consistently given up big leads. Something needs to change, starting with the mindset.
Bringing in another coach might not get Carmelo Anthony or Russell Westbrook to play better. Certainly there’s no guarantee, especially if you bring in a standard NBA name that these stars would do what coach Billy Donovan says it needs to do – break bad habits. A woman immediately gets everyone’s attention. A woman with real basketball credentials, qualified and appropriate for the job, could get results, even for players who are stuck in their ways like Carmelo Anthony and Paul George are.
Hiring Hammon grabs headlines and hearts. The upside is limitless. If the Thunder do respond, happen to win a bunch of games and play at the potential most think they should, the move opens up a new way of thinking – that the NBA isn’t just a man’s world. Other voices, female voices, have ideas, new ways to shape thoughts and different motivational tactics. Get the Thunder to the playoffs with a woman coach and the message is clear: OKC is progressive.
If the players don’t respond, or if they revolt because they don’t want to play for a woman, than the Thunder have a perfect reason for shipping them. We’ll find out if guys like Carmelo and Russ and PG would rally around this concept (likely would) or if they would show themselves to be a “problem.” If they are, it’s an easy call – you get rid of them and there would be no legit public outcry.
The Thunder are in a bad spot, partially because general manager Sam Presti has made it so. Pressure is on his hire of Donovan to get results – and fast. But that hasn’t happened. Fans and media are now lining up and questioning everything from Carmelo to Donovan’s inability to get through to the players. But no need to concern ourselves with that. Let’s spin it forward instead.
No one has brought players together like Popovich in San Antonio has. No one has been more consistent than the Spurs have. No one has taken a chance on hiring a woman as a head coach. Not only would the Thunder solve its issue of getting a new voice in the huddle, they would win public relations. The organization has a chance to be forward-thinking and do something historic at the same time.
Move the ball, get everyone involved, that’s the Spurs way. It’s also something that hasn’t happened this season and likely will never happen with the make-up of this Thunder team. OKC is 28th in field goal percentage. It’s 23rd in the league in assists. The Thunder have always wanted to be the Spurs, why not make it so? Popovich could certainly get results. Hire Hammon and you’re buying a piece of a proven system.