If you are going to compare some stats from games with others, it’s always good to start with a win. Over the last 12 games, the Thunder have been surprisingly competitive. If you haven’t been watching, and only been looking at the league standings and won/loss records, you would naturally think “doormat” when labeling the Thunder. However starting with that win over Golden State on New Year’s Eve, OKC’s numbers might surprise you.
Let’s start with Offensive Rating (points scored per 100 possessions):
- Full season Thunder Offensive Rating: 102.1
- First 20 games under Coach Brooks: 105.3
- Last 12 games: 108.75
- League average: 107.4
Most excellent. The offensive efficiency season totals are well below average, but you can see improvement. I have some thoughts on why the offense has improved, but I will address those a bit later. Next lets look at Defensive Rating.
- Full season Thunder defensive Rating: 109.2
- First 20 games under Coach Brooks: 111.7
- Last 12 games: 108.9
- League average: 107.4
For the season, the defensive efficiency is below average, and it actually surged when Brooks took over, but it has been coming down over the last dozen games. Next lets look at the components of the offensive and defensive efficiency, the “four factors“ so we can see where the improvement is likely coming from.
OKC EFG% 47.1%-League average: 49.6%.
OKC TOV% 15.1%-League avg.: 13.5%
OKC ORB% 28% -League avg.: 26.8%
OKC FT/GA 23.8% -League avg.: 23.7%
The four factors are shooting (eFG), maintaining possession of the rock (turnover %), offensive rebounding (off. rebounding %), and getting to the line and hitting your free throws (FT/FGA). Each factor has a level of importance in the game. Making shots is a ten on a scale of one to ten, maintaining possession of the ball is about a 5.5, or just a bit more than half as important as shooting. Offensive rebounding, which keeps your possession alive is about a 4.5 on the scale, and getting to the line is about one quarter as important as shooting at about 2.5 on the scale of one to ten.
As you can see, we are a below average shooting team for the season. It is the most important factor. We also turn the ball over way too much, which is second most important. We are however a good rebounding team on both ends of the floor, and we get to the line just about the league average. We are good at the less important things, and not so good at the most important things.
Next, our defensive four factors, how well we keep the other team from performing at their respective four factors.
Op. EFG% 51.1% -League avg.:49.6%
Op.TOV% 12.9%-League avg.: 13.5%
DRB% 74.3% -League avg.: 73.2%
Op.FT/FGA 22.9%-League avg: 23.7%
For the season, we are decidedly below average at the most important defensive factors shooting defense and forcing turnovers. Here we keep our opponents off the glass well and we don’t foul the other team more than average.
I’m not wasting your time telling you that our team is lousy. I write all this as a contrast to what’s been going on in Thunderland the last twelve games. Here are the offensive and defensive four factors from December 31st until now:
OKC Efg% 49.9%-League avg.: 49.6%
OKC TOV% 17.6% -League avg.: 13.5%
OKC ORB% 30.7%-League avg.: 26.8%
OKC FT/FGA 28.9%-League avg.: 23.7%
How about that? Suddenly we are above the league average in effective field goal shooting (field goal shooting with a weighting for the three point shot). That jump is about a 6% increase in overall shooting. Our turnover rate however has continued to nosedive; a 15 % increase in the rate of turns. Our hot rebounding has gotten even hotter over the last twelve and shows about a 9% increase in offensive rebounding. Our ability to get to the line and make free throws has improved 17% over the last twelve. These four factors are the important components that make up our improved offensive efficiency.
Op.EFG% 50.9% -League avg.: 49.6%
Op.TOV% 13.8%-League avg.: 13.5%
DRB% 77.5% - League avg.: 73.2%
Op.FT/FGA 23.9% - League avg.: 23.7%
Here is our opponent’s four factors during the last dozen, or our defensive four factors. We are still allowing great shooting by our opponents, but the number has come down nominally. We are also forcing more turnovers on the defensive end, effectively ending our opponent’s possessions early; they have increased about 6.5%. Our already good defensive rebounding has improved about 4.5%, yet our opponents are getting to the line about 4.2% more often.
Suddenly, during this last twelve the team is performing much better offensively and defensively. The shooting improvement and the continued strong rebounding, along with getting to the line more frequently are keys offensively, and getting our hands on the ball on defense seem to be key. I can only speculate why these improvements have started to appear. Possibly the fact that Big Rob Swift and Petro (trade) are completely out of the rotation, and that Wilcox and Joe Smith (injury) are mostly out of the rotation, while Collison and Nads Krstic are manning the paint might have something to do with it. Possibly that coach has removed Wilkins from the rotation and is using Watson and Weaver more could be a reason; Watson has been playing much better later, and Weaver has been very steady. Maybe new lead assistant Ron Adams has had some major impact. Maybe just Kevin Durant and Jeff Green settling into their second seasons, and playing in more natural positions for them have been a factor. Maybe Russell Westbrook is hitting jumpers and finishing at the rim much better are contributing factors.
It’s likely all these things have had some impact to a lesser or greater degree. Either way, it is much more fun to watch the team when you really think they have a legitimate chance to win every night.