Sixth appointment with Keeping Up With the Thunder, and my five takes about the past week of Thunder basketball.
After five games on the road, the Oklahoma City Thunder played three consecutive times at home. OKC lost badly against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night, 147-125. Brooklyn, lead by Harden and Irving (Durant sat out), was too much this time around for the young Thunder. On Monday and Wednesday, the Thunder faced the Houston Rockets and split the outcomes with one loss (136-106) and one win (104-87).
BAZLEY & DORT, OPPOSITE WEEK
Everyone who’s reading my weekly piece knows that I would run through a wall for Lu Dort. This week was not easy for the Canadian. In the past three games, Dort averaged 5.7 points (14.8 % FG, 13.3% 3PT, 87.5% FT), 1.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and zero steals. In the second game against the Rockets, Lu didn’t play the second half due to left knee soreness (hopefully nothing serious).
The other second-year player, Darius Bazley, instead had a positive week. Baze averaged 15.7 points (48.6 % FG, 33.3% 3PT, 80.0% FT), 7.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. Both players are young, and these ups and downs will be part of their development. Once both will become more consistent and SGA keeps improving, then the Thunder will be a big problem for the rest of the league.
HOME & AWAY RECORD, INTERESTING TREND
Usually, in professionals sports, the home team has more advantages. There is the crowd cheering for you, players are familiar with the court, and many more little factors. However, without fans on the stands, this advantage for the home team is taken away. I think this impacted these first twenty games of the season for Oklahoma City. The Thunder are 2-7 at home and 7-4 on the road. For a young team like OKC, it’s an odd home/away record. Without crowds, the home-court advantage diminishes pretty much, and the Thunder don’t have that extra push at home and don’t have a hostile crowd on the road.
KENNY HUSTLE, HARD WORK PAYS OFF
This week I want to mention Kenrich Williams. He is a fighter. He is always ready when his number is called, and he hustles hard (hence the nickname) on every possession. His numbers are not eye-popping, but what he brings to the game is not shown on the box score. His energy and his impact can not be measure. However, he gives an extra gear to the team when he steps on the floor. Williams reminds me a bit of Mr. Thunder, Nick Collison. This being said, I wanna cherish Williams’ game against the Rockets. Kenny finished with nineteen points (7/8 FG, 3/3 3PT, 2/4 FT), six rebounds, and two assists.
THUNDER BENCH, A POSITIVE IMPACT
The Thunder’s bench is not as terrible as I thought it would be. A rebuilding team filled with young players usually doesn’t have a big production from the second unit. I am glad it is not the case for Oklahoma City. OKC’s bench ranks 8th in the league in scoring with 38.1 points per game and has a net rating +/- of minus 3.5 (which is obviously not good, but it is the same as the starters). This second unit is filled with players who play really hard. I spoke about Williams in the above take, but also Diallo improved tremendously, and Muscala is always ready. Also, Roby is taking a tremendous leap, and Maledon, even if now he will start in place of the injured Hill, is a young growing talent who was part of the second unit.
- I am glad to see Diallo’s improving from the FT. After a bad start, he improved tremendously. In the past week, Hami shot 94.4% from the FT line on six attempts per game.
- Aleksej Pokusevski will not be part of the Thunder in the next games. The rookie joined the OKC Blue in the bubble in Orland to participate in the G-Leauge. Poku needs to take this chance to gain more confidence and improve his game.