We took a look at a list of goals for the entire Thunder team a couple weeks ago. But let’s get detailed. Let’s get specific. I’m going to dig in and hit on some individual goals for a few players that would define a successful season. So what meters for success should we set for Nenad Krstic and Shaun Livingston?
Average at least seven rebounds a game. Here’s something that might shock you: Nenad Krstic is 7-feet tall. He also averaged just 5.5 rebounds a game last year. Now I realize Krispy is a jumpshooting, finesse big man that’s not going to grab 15 rebounds any given night. I know this. But the Thunder needs him to at least be a little stronger on the boards. They can’t afford him to be overmatched by other big men in the league. He’s big enough, strong enough and smart enough to post this number. I think it comes down to being consistent on a night-to-night basis for him. He grabbed 254 boards out of a possible 2,216. That’s just an 11.5 percent rebounding percentage. In other words, not great.
Likewise, record at least 15 double-doubles. Last season in 46 games Krstic had just four double-digit rebounding games with a high of 15 against Sacramento. When you’re a big man that can score, double-doubles should be there for the taking. It’s about effort and position and Krstic should be able to at least score 15 of them.
Score some in the post. Almost 70 percent of his field goal attempts were jumpshots. He’s a very good jumpshooting big man and it’s quite a weapon to use with Russell Westbrook’s penetration ability, but he’s got to give the Thunder some kind of post scoring opportunity. Not a lot of it exists currently (Serge Ibaka, fingers crossed), and Krstic should be able to at least score a little from the block.
Shoot three free throws a game. Last season, Krispy took just 1.7 freebies a game. But prior to his knee injury he shot as much as 4.7 a game in New Jersey. He’s a good free throw shooter and if he’s getting to the line more that means he’s probably playing more in the post and being a little more aggressive.
Ideal stats: 13.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.5 bpg; 48 percent from the field, 80 percent from the line. Krstic can score. He was en route to an All-Star appearances in 2006 before tearing his knee apart. He’s a high percentage scorer (47 percent last year, 53 percent in 2006) and is a fairly efficient player.
Play in at least 70 games. If there’s one question with Livingston, it’s health. That’s the No. 1 goal all the time for him. It’s not a question of him getting hurt again, but it’s the back-to-back games and the long stretches that could keep him from playing. The signing of Kevin Ollie shows the organization isn’t completely sold on his health yet, but 70 games would be great for Livingston. The Thunder needs him on the floor and can’t afford for him to miss 30 games because his knee isn’t up to it.
Average at least 25 minutes a game. In the eight games he played with OKC last year, he averaged 23.8 a game. At that was even with trying to hedge playing time from Earl Watson, Chucky Atkins and Russell Westbrook. If he’s to be the Thunder’s legit backup point man and also see time at the two and three, he’s got to be ready to play extended minutes each night. There might be nights he plays just 15 but there also may be some where Westbrook is in foul trouble and he’s got to put in 36. He’s got to be ready for it.
Average four assists a game. The jury’s still momentarily out on James Harden, so as of right now Livingston is the best passer on this team. He’s gifted with court vision, feel and ability. He could be an 8-10 assist guy if he were given the starting spot with a clean bill of health. But the key is for him to keep the ball moving when he comes in and still be productive. He’s more of a set up guy than Westbrook, so with scorers all around him, four assists a game seems reasonable.
Be that late game mismatch that OKC was looking for. Last season, the Thunder tried to use Livingston in the post against smaller guards. With his 6-7 frame, he was perfect to go as the 24 wound down because he could back down and shoot over shorter guards. But the thing was, he wasn’t always successful. He needs to be that guy that OKC can rely on late in the clock and be able to feel confident dropping the ball to him.
Ideal stats: 7.5 ppg, 4.5 apg, 3.0 rpg; 50 percent from the field, 85 percent from the line. Livingston is a high percentage shooter because he takes high percentage shots. He doesn’t take anything outside of his range and he knows his limits. He loves elbow and baseline jumpers. He can score a little but he’s not looking to do so.
Thoughts? Ideas? Curse words? Sound off.