A few numbers and notes from the Thunder’s impressive 6-0 homestand:
- The combined record of the six teams OKC beat: 58-48.
- Four of the teams are currently in playoff positions, including the Nuggets
- The Thunder trailed going into the fourth quarter in three of the six games
- The Thunder outscored their opponents 31.6 to 21.0 in the fourth quarter of those three games
- The Thunder allowed just 95.5 points per 100 possessions, which is excellent, especially considering how powerful most of those teams are
- In the fourth quarter of the six games, OKC allowed just 91.7 points per 100, and had an offensive efficiency of 114.4
- The Thunder’s best lineup in the six games (min. 10 minutes) was Jackson, Sefolosha, Durant, Ibaka and Perkins, who averaged 113.6 points per 100 and allowed a staggering 46.6. They played together 20 minutes total, but only played together one game.
- The Thunder didn’t have a lineup appear in all six games (because Westbrook sat one), but of the ones that played in all five, the best was the starting five, and it wasn’t even very good, putting up an offensive efficiency of 98.2 with a defensive of 97.7.
After the last two weeks, things look pretty good, but as we all know, that can change quickly with a three-game losing streak where everyone thinks Scott Brooks should be fired and the team isn’t a true title contender. What they proved fairly clearly over the last two weeks though is that when they want, or I should say, need to be good, they can be really, really good.
With the strength of the bench, the matchup issues they create, No. 35 and No. 0 and everything else in between, the Thunder illustrated pretty well they’re probably the team to beat in the West (health assuming). Especially if they have homecourt advantage.
1. Kevin Durant (last week: 1)
KD’s average for the week: 27.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists with 47 percent shooting. Shall I just blather on about how spectacular he is, or do you get it already?
2. Reggie Jackson (last week: 6)
3. Jeremy Lamb (last week: 14)
I already brought up the potentially stupid idea that having Jackson and Lamb is better than having James Harden, so let me pose the question this way: Is Jackson/Lamb > Harden/Maynor? Because compared to the Thunder’s excellent bench from 2012, that’s really the difference (the 2012 bench also had Daequan Cook). The team that went to the Finals had Maynor and Harden running the second, along with some of the current bench staples. This one has Jackson and Lamb, with Steven Adams instead of Nazr Mohammed and Perry Jones as the spot 11th man instead of Daequan Cook. Which bench do you prefer?
(And yes, I realize the Thunder could potentially have Harden/Jackson, which would be outrageous but that’s not the point right now.)
In 2011-12, Harden and Maynor averaged 21.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.1 assists combined. So far this season, Jackson and Lamb are averaging 20.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists. And Jackson and Lamb are playing about 3.5 fewer minutes combined.
This past week, Jackson had games against the Wolves and Spurs where he scored 18 and 23 points on combined 18-25 shooting. The game he wasn’t as effective in, Lamb saw the big minutes down the stretch against the Warriors, playing a season-high 27 minutes which included all of overtime. Harden was always a lock to be on the floor for crunchtime, while right now it’s one or the other with Lamb and Jackson. That could be a great thing to have that kind of versatility and options in your crunchtime lineup, but it could also be something that causes inconsistency.
Also, here’s a Jackson stat: With him on the floor, OKC’s allowing 91.0 points per 100 and scoring 109.3. With him off, allowing 104.6 and scoring 99.7. That’s the biggest net rating on the team, by quite a lot.
4. Russell Westbrook (last week: 2)
(Note: Westbrook is really No. 3 this week, but I wanted to write Lamb and Jackson together. Maybe I’ll just start having them be Reggie Lamb in the power rankings.)
I think it’s fair to say Westbrook is still rusty, despite his quality game against the Warriors and a more efficient outing against the Wolves. Westbrook only turned it over four total times last week and while he struggled shooting against the Spurs (2-16), he still was a net positive in the game with eight assists and some very good defense on Tony Parker.
5. Serge Ibaka (last week: 5)
It’s getting to the point now that even when it seems like Ibaka plays poorly, he actually plays kind of good. For example, last night against the Wolves he shoots 7-17 and misses a bunch of good looks, but still has 15 points, eight rebounds and three outstanding blocks.
Ibaka’s season is getting pretty ridiculous right now: He’s sitting at 14.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. Those are big time numbers to go alongside Durant and Westbrook.
6. Nick Collison (last week: 7)
Rick Adelman had a great quote talking about what makes Collison such a good NBA role player: “Nick’s a terrific player I think. He comes in, does his job, does the dirty work. It’s not like he can’t play offensively. He can shoot the ball, he can offensive rebound. What’s good about a guy like that is he very seldom hurts you. He usually helps you or maintains what’s going on.
“A guy has to understand who he’s listening to. There’s a lot of guys in this league if they’d far less listen to agents and everything else and realize what they could do for a team, they could play for 12 or 14 years, if they do it effectively. But sometimes and everybody else they all want it right away and they don’t develop a skill. And I think he has developed a skill and he’s accepted it and he’s going to play in this league a long time. I’d love to see more guys accept that fact. You move up to our league, not everybody is going to be a star but you can have a pretty good living if you just realize what your strengths are.”
7. Kendrick Perkins (last week: 3)
Did you know: The Thunder are 10-0 this season with their normal starting lineup together. Perk for MVP.
Perk did have probably his best week of the season, I thought, playing Tim Duncan well, then a good first half against the Warriors before dislocating his finger, then a quality outing against Nikola Pekovic and the Wolves.
8. Thabo Sefolosha (last week: 8)
Thabo’s outside shot still hasn’t really come around and his defense has been inconsistent at times, but he has a knack for making positive plays. Like the save to Westbrook for the winner against the Warriors. Thabo’s often a right-place-right-time kind of player because he’s always putting himself in great position to do something. He’s got a great motor and whether it’s a rebound, a loose ball or a deflection, Thabo’s almost always doing something positive.
9. Steven Adams (last week: 4)
It seems that while Adams is still a staple of Brooks’ rotation, he’s not seeing consistent minutes throughout games. He’s getting squeezed often in the second halves of games, as Brooks tends to rely on smallball lineups with Ibaka at center.
From the quick and dirty research I did, Adams has barely played as the long big in a smallball lineup.
And there’s this, which is becoming a concern: With Adams off, OKC’s allowing 94.3 points per 100. With him on, 105.0. He’s been really good and has shown flashes of brilliant potential, but he gets lost far too often and still has a long way to go to being a 25-30 minute a night player.
10. Derek Fisher (last week: 13)
Derek Fisher has been fantastic this season in his bench role. And I think Scott Brooks has used him near perfectly.
11. Perry Jones III (last week: 11)
For whatever reason, it looks like Perry Jones has fallen out of the rotation. I feel like he’s the Roy Finch of Thunder basketball. The talent is there and he’s clearly got the potential to do some great stuff when he’s on the court, but whether it’s practice habits or matchups or whatever else, he can’t seem to wiggle his way on the floor.
After probably the best game of his career against the Jazz, he gets three straight DNP-CDs against the Spurs, Warriors and Wolves. It’s hard to play 11 guys and with the way Fisher is contributing and the smallball Brooks like to play in the second half, Jones is just the odd man out right now. I want to say you’ve got to find a way to get him minutes, but do you give him time at the expense of Lamb or Jackson?
12. Andre Roberson (last week: 12)
It’s time for him to head to the 66ers for a few days at least to get some time.
13. Hasheem Thabeet (last week: 10)
14. Ryan Gomes (last week: 9)
Before the game on Sunday against the Wolves, in the locker room I noticed Gomes had just gotten out of the shower and I thought to myself, “That’s kind of weird to take a shower right before you play a basketball game,” and then I realized that oh yeah, he’s not going to be putting on a uniform.
Stats via NBA.com/stats