The Weekly Critique: OKC Finally Gets Out Of January

The Thunder played three games in the past week to end the month of January. Oklahoma City came away with one win at home against the Dallas Mavericks and dropped two games on the road against the Cavaliers and against the Spurs. In addition to the losses, the Thunder will have to play without Enes Kanter for at least four more weeks. The Turkish player injured his forearm last Thursday night by hitting the iron part of a chair on the bench.

The games

Oklahoma City vs Dallas  109-98
Oklahoma City at Cleveland 91-107
Oklahoma City at San Antonio 94-108

Four observations

January is finally over

The Thunder finished the month of January with seven wins and eight losses. They won all the home games and ended up with an “acceptable” 4-8 on the road. Before this tough stretch of January started, a lot of people had the Thunder winning only 3-4 games but, the team led by Westbrook was able to get away with a good number of wins. The Thunder are now sitting on a 28-21 record, seven wins over .500

Russell Westbrook: alone on an island

Russell Westbrook is the heart, the engine, and the mind of the Thunder on the court. Whatever this team will accomplish this season is up to its number zero. Every time when he is sitting on the bench, the wheels seem to fall off and the Thunder give up points, leads and do not score anymore. Sometimes it’s very painful to watch. Russell Westbrook is averaging 34.7 minutes per game and did not play 40 minutes or more in any single game this season. When asked about Russell’s minutes, Donovan said that he is not planning to play him more than what he is averaging even if this might cost the Thunder few wins. Here is why: “that’s not fair to him. It’s not fair to his career. It’s not fair to our team if we’re trying to evolve into being a really good team”. Donovan also added ” I’ve said this before, for us to be the best team that we can possibly be, he cannot be Superman and rescue us from everything. There’s got to be some development and growth and improvement with a lot of these young guys”.

Westbrook recorded eight triple-doubles in January, a personal record in a single month. Still, it wasn’t enough to lead the Thunder to a winning record

The Bench Is Troubles

Lately, the Thunder’s bench looks pretty bad. In the month of January, they ranked 19th in scoring, 13th in FG percentage (44%), 26th in 3-points percentage (31%), and 24th in +/- with a minus 2.1.
In the past week, without Enes Kanter, the numbers are even worse: Oklahoma City’s bench ranks 27th in scoring, dead last in FG percentage (32.1%), 24th in 3-points percentage (28.6%) and 29th in +/- with a minus 6.2. Kanter will miss at least four weeks and the Thunder will definitely need a spark from the bench during his absence.

Trades On The Horizon?

The trade deadline is getting closer. The Thunder definitely need a two-way player who can be an offensive threat from outside the 3-points line and trustable on the defensive end.
Oklahoma City has a couple of good defenders (Roberson and Grant) but they aren’t very good on offense and on the other hand some good 3-points shooter (Morrow and Abrines) who can’t defend.
It will be interesting to see Presti’s moves, if something at all, in the next few weeks.

Top 3 Plays Of The Week

1- Westbrook to Dipo

2- The Rook goes hard

3- Kanter with the big block

Up Next

The Thunder will play four games, three consecutive at home, in the upcoming week. They will start tonight against the Chicago Bulls while Friday the Thunder will host the Memphis Grizzlies and Sunday the Portland Trailblazers. On Monday the Thunder will play in Indiana against the Pacers.

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Twitter: @euro_thunder

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