Thunder achievers/underachievers from this season

The last two weeks without the NBA have been quite challenging, especially for those that see sports, and the NBA as more than just entertainment, or relief from everyday life. People like me see it as all of the above, but it’s also our livelihood and without it, things are even tougher because now our creative space is limited.

We’re at a period where there hasn’t been a single NBA game played in 13 days, just shy of two weeks, and we’re having to get more-and-more creative with these stories. While I’d be lying if I said this isn’t the toughest time I’ve had during my five-year sports journalism career, challenges are fun, and The Suave Report isn’t slowing down. 

Here’s a creative story for you, though. Thinking back to when the Thunder were playing games, who were you most impressed with this season, and who were you most disappointed in? We took a poll on Twitter and here are our results, mixed with an explanation from me as to why Thunder fans probably chose these players. 

ACHIEVERS

Chris Paul: 51 percent: 70.5 votes (141 Total).


Chris Paul was the fan’s choice and was mine as well. CP3 wasn’t supposed to be this good this season. He wasn’t supposed to be in the conversation for an All-Star selection but he was in Chicago with the best of them in his 14th season. After an injury-riddled last few seasons, Paul has been better and healthier than he’s been. This year with the Thunder, Paul averaged 17.7 points, 6.8 assists, and 5.0 rebounds in 31.8 minutes per game. He’s played the same amount of minutes that he’s played over the last four seasons, but he’s been healthier. With 19 games remaining, he’s already played more games than he has in a season since 2015-2016, and he was on track to play more than that this season. 

The Thunder traded Russell Westbrook and got Chris. Everyone thought there would be a drop-off, but while Westbrook is the obvious better player, Paul fits what head coach Billy Donovan and the Thunder are trying to do, and it shows. 


Luguentz Dort: 17 percent: 24 votes (141 total).

Luguentz Dort was the second-most impressive player for the Thunder because he didn’t have any expectations this season. He was signed to a two-way contract, and now we’re bombarding Sam Presti about signing him to a long-term contract. 

Since there weren’t expectations for this player, all I can do is highlight what we found out about him. 

  1. He’s a hustle guy. He’ll give you those Patrick Beverley vibes without the extra antics. 
  2. He’s a capable defender that with some more coaching, will excel in this league. 
  3. He’s not the best shooter. Not bad, but not the best. But he compensates for that by attacking the paint and not being unguardable on the offensive end. 

Through 29 games and 21 starts, practically one-third of the 64 games the Thunder played, Dort has averaged 6.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game in 22 minutes.


UNDERACHIEVERS

While it’s hard to say anything was disappointing from the Thunder this season, some players underachieved based on what we anticipated at the start of the season.  

Terrance Ferguson: 69 percent: 94.5 votes (137 total).

Terrance Ferguson may have been the most disappointing player for Thunder fans, but while I acknowledge he didn’t have the year we expected, I think there were a ton of off-the-court issues that he dealt with that played into it. Basketball is such a mental sport that runs off confidence and rhythm, and those are two things Terrance struggled to maintain through the season. 

He showed a lot of promise last season, and we saw his confidence rising. This year has been tough for him and he’s still only 21 years old. He didn’t have the season we wanted him to have, and I’m sure he didn’t have the season he expected to have, but give him time. 

He averaged 4.2 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game in 37 starts and 50 games, and played 23.4 minutes per game. 

Steven Adams: 8 percent: 12.3 votes (137 votes).


Steven Adams came in second on the Twitter poll, but the most disappointing player was by far Steven Adams. I was a huge advocate coming into this season, confidently saying that he’d take a big step into all-star status. That didn’t happen, better yet, Adams took a step back from the previous three seasons. That is perplexing because he has a better natural point guard bringing the ball up the floor, and should have had the most shots he’s had in his entire career. 

Instead, Adams averaged 10.9 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game, which other than blocks, was worse than the previous season. He also only averaged 7.6 shot attempts per game, which is the lowest since the 2015-2016 season, his third year. Adams lacked aggressiveness this season, which is a huge red flag for a starting center, and that’s why he’s had the most disappointing season in my opinion. 

Deonte Burton was actually voted the most disappointing Thunder player after Ferguson with 18 percent of the vote, but in my opinion you can’t be that disappointing when you didn’t have that many expectations, so I chose Adams, a player who had expectations.

Addam M. Francisco

Founder & Editor-in-Chief. National Association of Black Journalists. University of Central Oklahoma.

One thought on “Thunder achievers/underachievers from this season”

  1. Accurate and good points. I believe the distractions in Terrence Ferguson’s personal life interfered with his focus. We all have distractions…however, why would people be so ornery to cause such disruption when there is so much on the line? Terrance appears to be a very respectful person – could be mistaken though.

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