You know what my favorite part about this past week was? Not just the three wins, but the fact there was only three games. Not that I don’t love watching the Thunder play (and win), but man, five games in six days is quite a commitment. KD said it really well after the game Saturday night against the Knicks — this is a very long, short season.
And now let’s rank.
1. Russell Westbrook (Last week: 4)
To recap Westbrook’s week: He averaged 24.3 points, 6.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game. He shot 52 percent from the field. He only turned it over six times total. He carried the Thunder to a tough win in Memphis while KD struggled. He found his jumper, hitting 9-19 from 16-23 feet. He attacked, created, distributed and finished. He basically looked like his old All-Star self again and did it for three straight games. My favorite thing about the Thunder is that this top spot could very well rotate throughout the season between three players. Tells you how good this team is.
2. Kevin Durant (Last week: 1)
The Thunderground Radio crew talked about it on this week’s podcast, but KD’s having a terrific season, the Thunder are the league’s best team right now (they are) and yet Durant really isn’t having his name tossed around much in the way-too-early MVP talk. Yeah, he’s not scoring 40 a night or even leading the league in scoring. But he might be playing as good as he ever has. He’s letting the game flow to him wonderfully, he’s rebounding, creating and scoring at an incredibly efficient clip. He’s fourth in the league in points per possession, has a PER of 27.22 (fourth) and is playing with that look of a player that is routinely the best player on the floor every night. He’s dominating games without dominating the ball.
3. James Harden (Last week: 2)
Against the Hornets and Spurs, Harden went for 24 total points on just 5-18 shooting. He had an impact, but it wasn’t the terrific play we’d gotten used to. And so then he just blew up against the Knicks scoring 19 in the first half en route to 24 on 8-12 from the floor. That’s kind of the thing that happens when you’re in a role like Harden’s — scoring can come and go a bit. He’s been really consistent so far this season scoring in double-figures every game, but some nights when KD or Westbrook have it cooking, he can step back a bit. Other nights, he can really assert himself. So far, he’s doing a wonderful job with both.
4. Nick Collison (Last week: 7)
I was thinking about this ridiculous question than I might actually believe is true: Is Nick Collison the second most valuable player on the team? Not the second best, but in terms of what he contributes to winning, is he behind Durant in value? The answer is no, but the fact I even wondered about it at all speaks to the impact a player that is averaging 5.7 points and 4.0 rebounds a game can have.
5. Serge Ibaka (Last week: 4)
Question: As long as the Thunder keep winning and playing well, is it totally OK with you if Serge Ibaka continues to play less and put up low numbers? I’m kind of thinking it is with me. Because the less he does, the less the Thunder have to pay. Sam Presti could make a case not to give him $10 million (or more) a year if he averages just seven points and six rebounds a game in 24 minutes. The better Ibaka is, the better the Thunder are, but at the same time, it’s not all bad if he doesn’t have a monster season like some of us (me) were expecting.
6. Kendrick Perkins (Last week: 5)
Perk has blocked a shot in every game so far this season. Last year with the Thunder, he blocked 16 in 17 games. Through 13 so far this season, he has 16. It’s not just that he can move better and run faster, but he has some explosiveness to his game and can actually protect the rim.
7. Thabo Sefolosha (Last week: 6)
Thabo went 3-5 from 3 last week. OK, so three of those came in one games. Fun stat though: Against the Knicks the other four starters were +29, +19, +26 and +29. Thabo was a +4.
8. Nazr Mohammed (Last week: 8)
For a brief spell, Mohammed was having himself a few ballgames a couple weeks ago. Not much of that lately, though he’s been productive. He only played a total of 39 minutes last week. Kind of hard to make much of an impression.
9. Daequan Cook (Last week: 10)
Is it just me or is Daequan Cook’s release the fastest in the league? He’ll catch a pass in the corner and I’ll think there’s no way he’s going to have a chance to shoot it, but he fires away over a closing power forward in about 0.00003 seconds. He didn’t have a great week shooting the ball as he went just 3-14 from deep, but that’s the life of a shooter. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not.
10. Reggie Jackson (Last week: 9)
Jackson might’ve gotten us all a bit too excited with his first performance. After that game, all the players and coaches were a little hesitant to heap the praise on Jackson like the fans were. And it seems obvious now: Because he’s just a rookie. He had five turnovers against the Knicks and didn’t make much of a dent off the bench for OKC. He’s doing his job fine, but he’s not really having the same impact that he did in his debut.
11. Cole Aldrich (Last week: 11)
A question I’m getting a lot is if the Thunder picked the wrong big man to keep developing. The answer is no for a couple reasons: Aldrich has one more year than Byron Mullens does on his rookie deal; Aldrich fits a better need — OKC doesn’t need a jumpshooting big, it needs interior toughness; and Aldrich has, or at least had, a lot more value so he wasn’t going to just get dumped for a second rounder and a roster spot. Give him time. He’ll find his way into the rotation at some point the next few years.
12. Lazar Hayward (Last week: 12)
I won’t lie, I often forget Lazar Hayward is on the team.
13. Royal Ivey (Last week: unranked)
Ivey played six minutes Saturday against the Knicks and was a -12. He didn’t take a shot, missed both free throws, didn’t have an assists, rebound, steal or block and didn’t pick up a foul. Quite the six trillion.
Inactives: Eric Maynor, Ryan Reid