After dropping four straight games, the Oklahoma City Thunder bounced back with two straight wins–the first, a slug fest against the Houston Rockets, and the second, a beat down of the Brooklyn Nets. Then, against the Indiana Pacers, the Thunder clawed back from a 15-point deficit in the third quarter to tie the game at 95 with just five minutes to go, but couldn’t get over the hump en route to a 115-111 loss.
THREE GOOD THINGS
Adams’s Free Throw Shooting. 58, 50, 58. Those are Adams’s free throw shooting percentages his first three years in the league. Seemingly out of nowhere, Adams has become one of OKC’s most accurate free throw shooters. Adams ranks second on the team with a percentage of 89%, just barely behind Alex Abrines (91%) on three times as many attempts.
Michael Jordan. For those living under a rock who only venture from beneath it to read this weekly column, Russell Westbrook was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame last Thursday night. While Westbrook’s short, but pointed speech, was the keynote address, Jordan’s introduction included some definite shade. “I’m not here to try to bash anyone that’s not here,” Jordan said, a comment not so subtly pointed west. Jordan went on to laud Westbrook’s decision to sign an extension with the Thunder, “Everybody has a choice, and when I saw that he chose to stay here in Oklahoma, I was so proud.”
Victor Oladipo. After an inauspicious start against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first game of the season, Oladipo has quietly become the Thunder’s second most-lethal weapon. Oladipo’s abilities were on full display this week as Oladipo averaged 23 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5.7 assists with shooting splits of 59/53/100.
THREE NOT SO GOOD THINGS
RPM. ESPN.com recently unveiled their “real plus minus” stats, which is a so-called advanced statistic that attempts to measure a player’s “estimated on-court impact on team performance.” Though Russell Westbrook ranked 7th, and Adams 54th, not another Thunder player ranked in the top 100. For comparison’s sake, the Thunder’s next opponent, the Los Angeles Lakers, has five players in the top 100. The Thunder also boast the lowest-ranked player at two positions: Semaj Christon at PG, Jerami Grant at SF. Christon and Grant rank 405th and 406th, respectively, out of 407 players. Oof.
Double-Digit Deficits. This version of the Thunder is quickly developing a terrifying M.O.–falling behind by double digits. In 10 of 14 games, the Thunder have trailed by double digits at some point, including half of the Thunder’s wins. Though the Thunder crawled back within single digits in all but four games, the team just isn’t built to consistently recover from huge deficits.
Defense. A couple of weeks ago, the Thunder ranked 4th in defensive rating, 5th in opponent field goal percentage, 1st in opponent three-point percentage, and 8th in opponent scoring. Today? Fifth in defensive rating, 16th in opponent field-goal percentage, 15th in opponent three-point percentage, and 15th in opponent scoring. Putting on my Captain Obvious hat, in the Thunder’s wins, their defense is stellar, with a defensive rating of 92.6. In losses, the defensive rating falls to an abysmal 111.9. In both wins and losses, the Thunder’s offensive rating holds steady around 100, so the defense is mostly to blame when the Thunder lose.
ONE MORE THING
Emphatic ending. Well, this is certainly one way to close out a game.