It was a 3-2 week for the Thunder that featured the first two losses of the season and then a sweep of a back-to-back-to-back. Blah blah blah, let’s rank the roster.
1. Kevin Durant (Last week: 1)
The first week of 2012 didn’t quite contain the same fireworks for KD the last week of 2011 did. No dramatic buzzer-beaters, no 30-point games even. But Durant did score the final 13 points against Houston which included a game-winner with 22 seconds left. In fact, check this out: Via StatsCube, Durant is 8-13 in the clutch (defined as the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime with a score differential of five points or less) for 27 points in just 18 minutes. That’s nine more points than the next closest guy in the league. KD isn’t becoming a closer. He is one.
2. James Harden (Last week: 3)
It’s time to talk seriously about how good James Harden. Like, where does he fit in terms of the really good players in the league? Let me throw out five guys and you tell me if Harden is better, worse or on par: Kevin Martin, Joe Johnson, Tyreke Evans, Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford. All five Harden is averaging more points per game and has a higher PER. In fact, excluding Manu Ginobili who is hurt, Harden leads all shooting guards in PER with a 24.75. He’s gone from a likely double-digit guy to a threat for 20 every night. He hasn’t scored less than 10 yet this season and he shot 43 percent from 3 this week. The beard is currently being feared.
3. Russell Westbrook (Last week: 4)
After an up and down opening week, Westbrook was far more consistent and steady over the last seven days. He scored 93 points on 83 shots (averaging 18.6 ppg on 44.5 percent shooting), got his turnovers under control (just 2.6 a game) and looked a whole lot more like himself. He brought the Thunder back from the dead against the Rockets in Houston and seems to have found his jumper again. His assists stayed down (5.4 a game for the week), but he hasn’t needed to play as much as a creator with KD and Harden doing plenty of it. That area definitely needs to improve some though. The Thunder are at their best when Westbrook is dishing out eight or more assists.
4. Serge Ibaka (Last week: 8)
I think we all might’ve expected a bit much from Ibaka this season. Since he was set to be a full-time starter and he put up pretty good numbers splitting between starting and coming off the bench last year, it seemed natural he’d trend up to double-double territory. Yet he’s putting up numbers about like Perk. Last week though, Ibaka was a bit better, averaging eight points and six boards with 2.2 blocks a game. Maybe he’s not going to have a monster season like some of us thought and his minutes curiously fluctuate, but as long as he’s doing his job, he makes OKC a lot better.
5. Kendrick Perkins (Last week: 2)
Perk is doing pretty much the same exact things he did the opening week, except I’m not as excited about his re-made body (pause) as I was last week. Now I know what to expect from Perk — rebounding, good help defense, tough post defense and a nightly scuffle. Just the way the Thunder needs it.
6. Thabo Sefolosha (Last week: 6)
It looks to me like Thabo’s defense is returning to his 2009-10 form and here’s a fun fact: So far this year, Thabo is 7-12 from 3. That’s 58 percent. That’s best on the team. That’s good.
7. Nick Collison (Last week: 7)
Not only did Collison put up a double-double against the Spurs, he also dominated Matt Bonner. That’s something to take note of. Collison dunked on him, took him off the dribble, abused him the post — it was the total package.
8. Nazr Mohammed (Last week: 10)
I am absolutely in love with the passing going on between Collison and Nazr Mohammed in the post. No-looks, smart extra drop-offs, draw and dishes — it’s great stuff.
9. Reggie Jackson (Last week: 12)
It took just one game, but Jackson seems to have won the confidence of a lot of Thunder fans. Mainly because he himself is quite the confident young man. Jackson didn’t hesitate in his first night of replacing Eric Maynor, stepping in and taking open shots while running the offense smoothly. It’s one game and the season is long and will have bumps, but Jackson certainly should have eased some worries.
10. Daequan Cook (Last week: 5)
Between flu-like symptoms and wearing welding glasses, Cook didn’t have a great week shooting the ball. He hit 57 percent of his shots from deep the opening week but hit just 2-14 this past week.
11. Cole Aldrich (Last week: 11)
Watching Cole Aldrich bumble around and try his very hardest the last four minutes of a blowout is one of those simple pleasures that come along with having a good team. Aldrich isn’t a bad player by any means, but the dude takes garbage time seriously. Diving on the floor, screaming out screens like someone on Reno Ave. needs to hear it, trying to rebound every shot — Aldrich is busting it out there.
12. Lazar Hayward (Last week: 13)
It’s pretty much guaranteed that Hayward’s first shot of each game he plays in is either going to barely glance the rim or smack directly into the backboard.
13. Eric Maynor (Last week: 9)
Eric Maynor had a pretty bad week. Let’s just say that.
Inactives: Ryan Reid, Royal Ivey