Oklahoma City Thunder

Scott Brooks: Hot Seat Warranted After Possible Early Playoff Exit?

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks calls a play during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Phoenix. The Suns won 122-115. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Matt York
Jared PorterCorrespondent IIApril 22, 2014

Scott Brooks' head coaching career in the NBA has gotten off to a successful start with the Oklahoma City Thunder from a winning percentage standpoint. But when you coach for an organization that has goals of NBA titles, a good winning percentage doesn't necessarily translate to job security. 

For Brooks, sustained winning has been the top priority. His career record of 293-170 is proof of that, ranking him 16th among all coaches in the history of the NBA, per basketball-reference.com

But even with the impressive winning percentage, Brooks has failed to win what matters most: an NBA title. 

It may be a little unfair to criticize a head coach for not winning a title in his first five years, but that's the unfortunate burden for the coach of a title-contending team.

Scott Brooks leads his Thunder squad in their first season against the Dallas Mavericks in mid-December of 2008.
Scott Brooks leads his Thunder squad in their first season against the Dallas Mavericks in mid-December of 2008.Glenn James/Getty Images

In Brooks' first year as a head coach in the 2008-09 season, expectations were low as he took over a young, inexperienced Thunder squad. And to credit Brooks, he did his part in evolving the Thunder from being the bottom-feeders of the NBA in the organization's first year to emerging as a team that has made two Western Conference Finals appearances and one NBA Finals appearance in the past three seasons. 

The expeditious rise to an elite status by the Thunder has rapidly altered the expectations of the Thunder organization and its fans for Brooks. Ever since the 2011-12 season when the Thunder made it to the NBA Finals, a title at seasons' end has been the only result that would satisfy the blood-thirsty fans. 

The high expectations for coaches like Brooks are arbitrary, but they're a part of the game. With success, comes expectations. And with the high amount of recent success the Thunder have achieved in the past few seasons, expectations have reached a pinnacle. 

As a result, Brooks leads his team in the 2014 postseason with more weight than ever before to go the distance.

In his favor, Kevin Durant has been dominant all season, enough so that he has earned his fourth scoring title in five years. Plus, all Thunder players are healthy for the postseason, including key players in Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha and, most importantly, All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook. 

That said, the Thunder lost a hard-fought Game 2 of their first round matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies Monday night, evening the series at one game a piece. With emotions running high from the disappointing loss, negative talk encompassing Brooks transpired the very next day. 

ESPN's Bill Simmons was on The Herd with Colin Cowherd on Tuesday morning, and revealed a few coaches in the NBA that, in his opinion, are at risk of losing their jobs at the conclusion of the season. Brooks' name was one of the few mentioned. 

"If the Rockets lose Round 1, (Kevin) McHale’s not coming back," Simmons said. "Golden State loses Round 1 to the Clippers, I don’t think Mark Jackson is coming back. If Oklahoma City doesn’t make it out of Round 1 against Memphis for some reason, I don’t think Scott Brooks comes back."

Not surprisingly, Twitter users let their voices be heard by chiming in on the debate Monday:

Scott brooks job should be up for grabs soon if Sam Presti ever wants to win a championship.

— Juicy (@J_phelps13) April 22, 2014

We lose one playoff game and all of a sudden Scott brooks is on the hot seat? That could be the dumbest thing ive ever heard #ESPN...

— Tanner Norton (@tannerln2) April 22, 2014

The Thought Of Scott Brooks On The Hot Seat Is Ridiculous. One Of The Beat Coaches In The NBA.

Fallyn Evans (@fee_fnnRADDD) April 22, 2014

@okcthunder It's time for Scott Brooks to act as a coach and draw up plays instead of rely on @KDTrey5 and @russwest44 abilities!

luvsnotjustaverb (@ANTHONY_WhatIf) April 22, 2014

Despite the fair amount of pessimistic talk concerning Brooks and his future with the Thunder, he still has plenty of time to display his effectiveness as a coach and leader in this year's playoffs.

Thunder fans and followers are understandably speaking with high emotions, as they have a sense of deja vu from last year's series with the Grizzles—a series in which the Thunder followed up a Game 1 victory with four straight losses, knocking them out of the postseason.

However, one thing has been made clear by Brooks through his coaching: He is going to coach the way he wants, no matter how positive or negative the reactions of Thunder fans.

Brooks has a reputation of being stubborn, whether it's with his player rotation, his offensive scheming (which seems to lack identity) or his decisions to consistently play older, veteran players over younger, less experienced players who may have more capability. 

And while a coaching change has yet to be mentioned as a possibility by the Thunder organization, it's still a debate that grows more and more intense after every season that the Thunder fail to win an NBA title. 

It isn't clear how much this year's postseason result will come into play with Brooks' future in Oklahoma City. Nevertheless, Brooks will have the same goal and desire as each Thunder fan for every season that he retains the title of head coach: winning an NBA championship. 

But in order to lock up his job as head coach of the Thunder in the future with certainty, Brooks may want to consider giving Thunder Nation its title immediately. 

Follow @JaredPorter_BR on Twitter for more Thunder news and analysis. 

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