CHICAGO -- Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Thursday he felt it was too early in the NBA season to judge his or any other team.
Using the Los Angeles Lakers’ 1-4 start as an example, Brooks said he thought it was unjust for the media or fans to jump to conclusions about the Lakers’ potential.
“To me, that’s not fair,” Brooks said. “That’s not fair. Be fair.”
Even the Thunder have been under a critical eye after dropping their season opener to the San Antonio Spurs and having also lost to the Atlanta Hawks. They were 2-2 heading into Thursday’s meeting with the Chicago Bulls.
“Don’t judge a team by one game,” Brooks said prior to the game. “We lost the first game of the season to one of the best teams in the last 15 years on their home floor on opening night with two incredible Tony Parker shots, and we were being hammered. It was like, ‘Are you serious?’”
Brooks added, with sarcasm, “I thought with 81 games left, ‘Why play them? Why waste my time and not sleep for 200 straight nights?’”
Thunder forward Kevin Durant had a similar reaction prior to Thursday’s game.
“We’d love to be 4-0 right now, but I wouldn’t say it’s a slow start,” Durant said. “Four games into an 82-game season, you can’t really put too much into early on in the season. Whether we win or we lose, you have to get to better. That’s the goal for us. We want to continue to improve. It’s a little early to tell for any team.”
Brooks also spoke of the team’s focus being on improving as the season unfolds. From March to the end of last season, the Thunder went 31-19 and reached the NBA Finals. In the 2010-2011 season, they were 28-18 and reached the Western Conference finals.
“There’s a lot of games,” Brooks said. “We’ve always been a team that always build our team throughout the season to improve every month. It’s so hard if you analyze every game and how this guy plays. I don’t like to do that with players. If a guy has an off night, I don’t think he’s the worst player in the world. If he has a great night, I don’t think he’s the best player. We judge them through a large number of games.
“At the same time, we want to play our best basketball at the end of the season. We’ve done that pretty well the last few years and continue to build our habits as the season goes along and be ready come March and April and be ready come the playoffs.”
Brooks did admit he believed the Thunder were perceived by opponents differently this season because they made the NBA Finals, and his team had to adjust to that.
“There’s no question, being in the Finals last year, teams look at us different,” Brooks said. “We’ve all done that. The Lakers have been into the Finals, you look at them different. The Bulls, you look at them different when they were having all of their Final appearances.
“We have to be ready. We have to be ready to play every night. In this league, it’s so hard. The teams that don’t have good records can still come in and have good games and win. If you’re not ready to play no matter who you play, there’s a great chance you’re not going to win that game.
“I always tell our guys just because you play against a big team or a team with a great record, you shouldn’t be more excited to play because that really disrespects the rest of the league.”