One of the big mid season acquisitions this season is the Oklahoma City Thunder adding veteran point guard Derek Fisher. Fisher, who was dealt to the Rockets hours before the trade deadline expired, had his contract bought out by the Rockets just days after they traded for him. After the buyout, he could go play for any team but the Los Angeles Lakers. Naturally, lots of teams were intrigued by Fisher’s availability, but eventually the Heat and Thunder became the front runners to land him. Eventually, after talking with the Thunder, Fisher chose the Thunder. Fisher feels like going to the Thunder gives him an opportunity to get a 6th championship ring. Fisher is clearly still bothered by the way the Lakers let him go, especially because age was considered to be a huge factor for why he was let go. To spite them, he has chosen to wear the number 37, the same number as his age.
Fisher is clearly eager to assist his new team in any way that he can, and also proving to his former team that he can still contribute to a championship team. But how much will Derek Fisher help the Thunder? Could this be the move that pushes them over the top? Well, if we go back to the 2006-2007 season, we saw that Derek Fisher was a nice addition to the Utah Jazz, who made the Western Conference Finals that season. He provided an additional boost in the back court to aid the young budding point guard Deron Williams. But in 2007, Fisher was averaging 10 points a game. This season, Fisher is averaging a little bit under 6 points per game. That’s a drop off of 40% in his scoring production. He clearly isn’t the same player he was in ’07, but does that mean he has nothing to offer?
I honestly think Fisher still has the capability to be a difference maker for this Thunder team. First off, the Thunder are really hard pressed for scoring once you go beyond James Harden off the bench. If Fisher can up his scoring average by another couple of points and help take some pressure off Harden, then that would be huge for them. Plus, the Thunder are still a very young team. They have more playoff experience now then they did 3 years ago, but they still could use another veteran in the locker room along with Kendrick Perkins. Perkins and Fisher will be the voices of reason and provide veteran leadership. That’s no small thing to overlook.
But perhaps the biggest reason Fisher could be of assistance is in the event that they face the Lakers in a playoff series. Fisher knows the ins and outs of that team and what the players weaknesses are. He will provide valuable inside information to the Thunder come playoff time. He knows what bothers Kobe, Gasol, Bynum, etc. The Lakers have made a huge mistake by allowing two key parts of their team depart to a couple of Western Conference foes. The other would namely be Lamar Odom to the Mavericks. Letting Fisher go could come back to haunt the Lakers should they meet in the playoffs. I certainly think a lot of NBA fans would love to see Derek Fisher face his former team come playoff time.
In closing, how much will Derek Fisher help his new team in the playoffs? That remains yet to be determined, but I do think that it doesn’t hurt them at all. Especially with their weak bench. The Thunder need all the help they can get off the bench, and adding a guy who can shoot like Fisher could really make a difference for them. In addition to that, having his wisdom, experience, and calm demeanor on the sidelines in a playoff series could really be as helpful to them as his raw basketball skills. Do I see him as the missing piece in OKC? I honestly don’t see him as that, but I do see him as an additional club in their bag that they can benefit from. I definitely do think the Thunder are better with him than they were before they got him. It’ll be fun to see how things shake out in Oklahoma City as a result of this acquisition.