Straight to the rankings, posthaste:
1a. Kevin Durant (last week: 1)
You know the stats. Durant has scored at least 30 in seven straight games, and has done it 24 times this season, 11 more than No. 2 (LeBron James). But here’s what I was curious about: What are KD’s other numbers in those 30-point games? In those 24 games, Durant’s averaging 5.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds. Basically right in line with his season averages. What I found interesting there is, even on the nights where scoring becomes the focus of Durant’s game, where he shoulders the load offensively, he still maintains the rest of his game. It’s not like on the 30-point nights he averages 2.5 assists and pads that up in his 20-point ones. Durant’s basically the same player throughout. Just some nights he hits a few more shots than others.
But you know what’s sick? That Durant casually goes for 30-5-9 last night and it felt completely nonplussed. When you see 32 from Paul George, you go “Whoa, Paul George had 32 tonight!” but when Durant does it, it’s completely routine. That’s the mark of true greatness. When it takes 54 points to get your attention.
Also, an update on his WR (Without Russ) numbers: Last 13 games, he’s averaging 35.8 points on 50.9 percent shooting (64.5 percent true shooting), 7.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists.
1b. Royal Ivey (last week: N/A)
The Thunder are 3-0 since signing him to a 10-day. Presti works his magic again. He’s probably worth another 10-day just for superstition’s sake.
Plus, it does seem like Ivey has an incredible knack for appropriating good chemistry on the team, so I don’t think it’s all that coincidental that KD’s playing better while having his good friend Ivey back on the roster. Forget a 10-day. Make it a max.
2. Serge Ibaka (last week: 3)
Ibaka’s last three games: 20.6 points on 73 percent shooting (27-37). He’s scored at least 20 in all three, something he’s never done in his career. There’s been a lot of talk of Ibaka being a shell of himself without Russell Westbrook, but it’s obvious that he’s discovering his place and rhythm a bit again. Largely because of Durant, who has assisted on 15 of those 27 makes.
But enough of that: Let’s go ahead and say it: Ibaka maybe possibly should be an All-Star. Here’s the case for: With Russell Westbrook unlikely to be named to the team because of injury, that means the Thunder would only be represented by two players (Kevin Durant and Kendrick Perkins, obviously). The Thunder, a team in the top three in the West probably should have more than one representative in the game. And while the Western Conference is completely loaded with 4s, the door is open because of all the injuries.
Ibaka should be there.
3. Reggie Jackson (last week: 4)
Is he a bad defender?
Mike Conley had 19 and seven assists, Jeremy Lin had only six, Stephen Curry had 37 and Jackson got taken off him and Isaiah Thomas had 38 and Jackson got taken off him. Our eyes have been telling us that Jackson has been struggling in stopping point guards across from him, but the numbers disagree some.
The Thunder are allowing 95.5 points per 100 with Jackson on the floor, and 102.2 with him off. Synergy says he’s only allowing 0.85 points per possession on 34.1 percent shooting, placing him in the top 115 in the league (which is pretty good). He’s allowing 0.99 ppp on spot-ups, which confirms that he does seem to fall asleep off the ball every now and then.
But again, is he a bad defender, or has he just been playing some bad defense lately? The obvious justification of Jackson’s defense is that a) he’s now guarding starting point guards instead of backups, or second string shooting guards and b) he might be trying to manage his energy throughout the game a bit more with his minutes over 30 now as a starter.
4. Jeremy Lamb (last week: 2)
His last four games, he’s 14-37 shooting and 5-19 from 3. And in the last three, he hasn’t attempted a free throw. It’s not that I’m worried about Lamb, because I think his willingness to shoot while still hunting only solid looks means that it’s probably more of a blip, but he is shooting just 36.1 percent in January after shooting 50.0 percent in December.
Could Westbrook’s absence be making that big of a difference for him? In one way, obviously, because Lamb’s more responsible in the offense now. But on the season, Westbrook has only assisted eight times on a Lamb make, with Jackson being No. 1 with 29 and Durant second with 21.
In this stretch without Westbrook though, the top Lamb assister? Nick Collison and Durant, each with nine. Jackson’s only set Lamb up five times. With Jackson’s focus being so heavy on working with Durant and Ibaka, maybe he’s forgetting his old bench mob running buddy a bit. Or, a better explanation: Lamb’s point guard on the second unit is Derek Fisher now, which is a problem for him.
5. Nick Collison (last week: 6)
The Thunder’s offensive rating is 113.1 when Collison is on the floor. Something tells me he needs more than 17.3 minutes a game, which is the fewest a game he’s played since his rookie season (17.0).
But then again, welcome to Discussions From 2011.
6. Thabo Sefolosha (last week: 7)
I don’t know what to think about Thabo at this point. His defense doesn’t appear to be nearly as disruptive and offensively he’s wildly inconsistent.
7. Kendrick Perkins (last week: 9)
Surely by now you’ve read Tom Haberstroh’s thing on him being the LVP. Kind of hard to argue with all that. His updated turnover-to-basket count is 60 to 55.
8. Steven Adams (last week: 8)
Why is Adams fouling so much right now? I think a lot of it has been bad luck, and some worse calls. He often gets punished for his strength and size, because with him, a small push becomes a big one very easily.
But Adams has to manage this better, because excessive fouling can be a big problem. I would say that most of Adams’ fouls haven’t come in a manner where he was out of control, Cole Aldrich style, jumping to contest every shot to reaching for every ball. Adams gets called a lot off the ball for pushing, and he gets called a lot battling for offensive rebounds. Not extremely concerning fouls, in my mind.
9. Derek Fisher (last week: 5)
I am uncomfortable with the fact he’s essentially become the Thunder’s sixth man right now. He routinely is the first off Scott Brooks’ bench.
10. Perry Jones (last week: 10)
11. Andre Roberson (last week: 11)
A couple more games for him in the D-League, which is great. Every minute he plays, he’s going to improve. Because you can see it in the guy. He has a great mindset and a great attitude. I don’t know how long it’s going to take him, but if he can ever catch up offensively to where he’s at defensively already, the Thunder will have something good.
12. Hasheem Thabeet (last week: 12)
Happy, happy, happy.