Oklahoma City played its best stretch with its star player sidelined with a bum ankle. Therefore, media folks had to bring up the inevitable “Is the Thunder better off without Durant?” questions and really, people are still talking about it. Reader J.G. emailed in and put all of that to bed.
“You’re joking, right?” is what my first response would be to people who ask this question but after his injury and the Thunder’s team success in his absence, a lot of individuals posed this question and at first glance, it may have not seemed all that ridiculous. However on second glance, this notion is clearly based off of the misconception that the 5 of 6 game stretch that the Thunder went on while Durant (and Green for a bit) was hurt was their best of the season statistically.
Well it turns out that stretch was not the Thunder’s best stretch of wins. Not even close. And here’s why:
The stretch without Durant included wins against Memphis (5th worst record), Washington (2nd worst record), Sacramento (1st worst record) and two sixth seeded playoff teams, Dallas and Philadelphia. When you tack on the fact that the Thunder were actually favored in two of those games that they were supposed to have won, then you can really see why that stretch meant very little in terms of an “impressive streak.”
The Thunder’s victories came against teams with a 20.7% Winning Percentage, a 23.2% Winning Percentage, a 29.3% Winning Percentage, a 50% Winning Percentage and a 61% Winning Percentage. So their opponent’s average Winning Percentage during the stretch without Durant (and Green for a time) was 36.8%, hardly something to celebrate and even less indicative of one player’s overall impact, destructive or constructive.
The best stretch the Thunder ACTUALLY had in terms of “quality of opponent” and “wins produced” was when they went 5 of 7 in January, beating Utah, Detroit, Golden State, New Jersey and Memphis. The Thunder were not favorites in ANY of these games and went up against much harder competition. Keep Reading…