Re-living the worst of the season in three consecutive weeks has been mentally and emotionally draining. But here I am, still standing and ready to bring you my pick for the worst play of the year.
For this final installment of the Season in Review, I’m going to again categorize and will group the worst plays into three categories before selecting the very worst play of the season.
CATEGORY 1: SHAQTIN’ A FOOL
1) Dion Waiters forgets how to dribble against the Timberwolves
Dion in the open court is weird sometimes. After a nifty steal, Waiters loses control of the ball, not once, but twice, allowing the defense to recover. Waiters goes on to miss his shot, and what looked like a guaranteed score turned into an empty possession.
2) Waiters misses an easy layup against the Grizzlies
I’m not even sure how this happens to an NBA player. On the break, Waiters remembers the basketball this time but forgets how to make a layup. Fortunately, Waiters was so wide open that he had plenty of time to gather his miss and lay in his second attempt to avoid complete embarrassment.
3) Waiters blows an uncontested layup against the Pacers
I’m really perplexed how it could happen again.
4) Perry Jones can’t post-up Marco Belinelli
While the 130-91 loss to the San Antonio Spurs is one big terrible play, Jones’s attempt to post-up Belinelli perfectly sums up the Thunder’s ineptitude. Perry tried three times to back Belinelli down and botched all three attempts.
CATEGORY 2: WHO BROKE RUSS?
1) Russ breaks his hand against Clippers
Poor Russ. Twice this season Russ suffered a broken bone at the hands (body?) of his own teammate. In the second game of the year against the Clippers, Westbrook’s hand collided with Kendrick Perkins’ back, fracturing Westbrook’s hand. Westbrook went on to miss 14 games, and the Thunder managed to win only 4 of those games.
2) Roberson breaks Russ’s face
For Westbrook’s second injury, Andre Roberson, desperately trying to foul in the waning moments of a loss against the Portland Trailblzers on February 27, 2015, kneed Russ’s face. The impact left a visible dent in Russ’s face, and Westbrook miraculously missed only one game after having surgery to repair the zygomatic arch.
CATEGORY 3: CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR
1) Missed buzzer beaters
The Thunder missed the playoffs this year by one game. One more win and the Thunder would’ve been the first challenger to Golden State’s romp to the Finals. When the margin is that thin, it’s hard not to look back at the several missed buzzer beaters (for win or tie) this season. In total, the Thunder missed six shots with less than 10 seconds left that would’ve won or tied the game. Serge Ibaka missed two (against the Clippers and Memphis), Reggie Jackson missed two (against Detroit and Brooklyn), and Russ missed two (against New Orleans and Houston). For convenience sake, I’m going to lump all these together as one mega-worst-play-nominee.
2) Anthony Davis sinks the Thunder
Not only did the Thunder miss a bunch of buzzer beaters, but the Thunder were on the wrong end of a few made baskets in the final seconds. For example, E’Twan Moore of the Chicago Bulls hit the shot of his life to secure his team’s victory over the Thunder on March 5, 2015. But the worst one of all was the double-clutch three made by Anthony Davis in the Pelican’s thrilling victory over the Thunder on February 6, 2015. Considering it was the Pelicans who took the eighth and final playoff spot over the Thunder by virtue of a tiebreaker, this buzzer beater stings the most.
THE WORST PLAY
Russ breaks his hand against the Clippers. While Dion supplied the laughs and Davis supplied the tears, it was Perkins who (inadvertently) delivered the most crushing blow to the Thunder’s season. I’d like to believe that if Westbrook doesn’t miss those 14 games early in the year, the Thunder probably do better than 4-10 over that same stretch and make the playoffs. (Note, also that Westbrook played just 9 minutes against the Clippers before suffering the broken hand, and the Thunder lost the game, 93-90). But reality is harsh, and ultimately, this one little play had the most significant impact on Thunder’s season.
MORE SEASON IN REVIEW
- Part 1: The Best Player
- Part 2: The Best Performance
- Part 3: The Best Play
- Part 4: The Worst Player
- Part 5: The Worst Performance
- Part 6: The Worst Play (today)
For more from John Napier during the offseason, follow him on Twitter at @ajohnnapier.