Bitter California, the Thunder are (0-3): Five Thoughts

The Oklahoma City Thunder played its first three games against three Californian teams. After the two losses against the Warriors and Clippers, this time the Kings celebrate their first win of the season, 131-120.

The game against Sacramento seemed the perfect chance to earn the first win of the season. With Russell Westbrook back in the lineup and an excited home crowd, it was all set perfectly. However, the Thunder didn’t count for the Sacramento Kings. The young Californian team came into the game without any fears, started to hit all their shots, and kept doing it all night because Oklahoma City wasn’t able to get a stop. Every time the Thunder cut the Kings’ lead to a possession or two, Sacramento was able to respond. Consistency has been a big issue in the past two games. The team lead by his main star Russell Westbrook, it failed once again in this young season to play forty-eight minutes with the same intensity on both ends of the floor.

Five Thoughts

  • Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook is back and it feels like he didn’t lose a step. The Oklahoma City’s star played an excellent game offensively, high pace, he shot the ball well and created open shots for his teammates. In his first game after being out for six weeks, Russell Westbrook almost completed a triple-double: thirty-two points, twelve rebounds, and eight assists. It’s been only one game, but it’s easy to see how this team can play better on offense when Westbrook can play.

  • Shooting struggles

The Thunder missed an incredible number of open shots, mostly three-pointers. The final stat line from behind the arc is scary: 9-39, 23%. That’s a total of thirty shots missed, many of them were open shots. Oklahoma City ranks dead last after three games in 3PT percentage at 23.9. The struggles are not only coming from behind the arc, but also at the free throw line. Last night, the Thunder missed eleven free throws on thirty attempts. That’s a lot of free points left on the table, and it wasn’t only yesterday. Oklahoma City ranks 29th in the league from the FT line with a 66.7 percentage. Another bad, bad number.

  • Defense, defense, and defense

Last night the Thunder played defense for about five minutes total, the other forty-three minutes were a mess. Considering all the issues with the shooting, that isn’t enough. Oklahoma City doesn’t have (apparently) the ability to outscore opponents so the defense has to be the major focus. Not much to add. Defense, defense, and defense.

  • Young blood

If Terrence Ferguson is having big problems to stay on the floor, then we can’t say the same for Hamidou Diallo. The 45th pick of the last draft, in only three games, showed that he can be a valuable asset for this Thunder team. Diallo is not afraid to take responsibility on offense, no hesitation when it comes to shoot or attack the basket (which he does both well so far). Hamidou is also a solid presence on defense and that’s why he is playing important minutes. Last night he finished with eleven points, one rebound, two assists, and two steals. Special mention also for Deonte Burton, five points, one rebound, and one block in only six minutes of playing time.

  • Work in progress

It’s been only three games, so the level of concern shouldn’t be too high, but this is the first time in Oklahoma City history that the team starts 0-3. In a packed Western Conference with hungry teams which want to make the playoffs, this is obviously not a positive start. There are still seventy-nine games left, a lot of work and a lot of fixing to be done. The Thunder have the potential, they also have three days off before the next game (vs the Boston Celtics) to figure out a way to avoid a 0-4 start.

The Thunder will play again at home, on Thursday night, against the Boston Celtics

Alberto Bodei

Twitter: @euro_thunder

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