Commentary: The WCF Are No Place For Derek Fisher
Interested in having your mind blown? Listen up. Derek Fisher was on the court for the final 17:15 in Tuesday night’s Game 2. Let me repeat: Derek Fisher was on the court for the final 17:15 in Tuesday night’s Game 2! This is the Western Conference Finals we’re talking about. For Fisher to play 17:15 straight minutes in my BSSC league would be an absolute travesty. How is this possible? Why on Earth would the Thunder ride Derek Fisher down the stretch in a crucial game that they technically weren’t out of, over someone like Thabo Sefolosha, a longer defender who can shoot threes just the same. It’s my guess that Scott Brooks’ logic here was trying to catch up with San Antonio’s dominant offense, but even with the league’s best scorer, best scoring point guard (who’s healthy), and third best scoring shooting guard (who’s healthy) on your roster, that’s an utterly inane strategy. That’s how great these Spurs have been. You don’t put out a fire by flicking matches in its direction.
Using on/off the court numbers for two games is silly because of the small sample size, but I’m comparing Sefolosha and Fisher anyway. The two have played about the same minutes (Fisher’s logged 49 and Sefolosha’s logged 46). When Fisher’s on the court, OKC is averaging 1.21 PPP (a team high) and giving up 1.18 PPP. Sefolosha’s impact appears to come on the defensive end. When he’s off the court the Thunder give up 1.24 PPP. When he’s on it, they give up 0.97. Both figures are the team’s best.
Fisher is no longer a point guard. With Russell Westbrook and James Harden as the Thunder’s primary ball handlers—not to mention Kevin Durant—his one role on offense is that of an emergency release valve stationed in the corner for whenever those aforementioned players find resistance at the basket. Right now he’s just an overmatched player who looks a year or two late into starting a career in coaching.
Fisher went 2-11 on Tuesday night. He was terrible, but is there any reason to expect he wouldn’t be? Look, I don’t think Sefolosha is a George Gervin/Scottie Pippen hybrid or anything like that. His offense is touch and go (usually, go), and there’s no doubt he’s probably the least valuable starter remaining in the series, but before Fisher’s arrival (and Perkins, for that matter) Sefolosha was this team’s “veteran” presence (he’s four years older than Durant and Westbrook).
The Daily Thunder’s Royce Young suggests throwing Daequan Cook into the pot, which I agree is a serviceable upgrade over Fisher. But Sefolosha is the rightful owner of these minutes. He’s played alongside this team’s core for three healthy seasons. He knows the system, as well as his teammates tendencies. It makes too much sense. You know what doesn’t make sense? This clip:
Here are two more clips of Fisher failing in the fourth quarter. In one of them he makes Matt Bonner look like the Incredible Hulk, and in the other it looks as though he’s never played basketball before. It’d be shocking to see him get big minutes tonight.