Seventh appointment with Keeping Up With the Thunder. Here are my five takes about the past week of Thunder basketball.
This week, the Oklahoma City Thunder played three games, two at home in a mini-series against the Minnesota Timberwolves and one on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers. One common factor about this week is that OKC fought every game out. The Thunder lost their first game at home against the Twolves on a Russell three-pointer (103-106). However, OKC had only eight players available (SGA, Dort, and Theo did not play) and never gave up. On Saturday, after an outstanding first half, the game came down to the wire, and the team lead by SGA was able to succeed (120-118). The last of the three games came against the Los Angeles Lakers and, the young guys played their hearts out. Despite the loss, which came after one overtime (112-119), going forward, this should be definitely considered a moral victory.
SGA, AN ALL-START STATEMENT
SGA played only two games out of three in this past week, but if there are still doubts about SGA being an All-Star player, well, then he probably is erasing them all little by little. Shai’s improvement compared to last season is tremendous, and these past two games are just there to show it. The third-year player averaged 30.0 points while shooting 46.8% from the floor, 42.9 from behind the arc, and 90.9 from the FT line. But this is not all. SGA also added 8.0 rebounds, 8.5 assists, and numerous clutch plays. I mean, did you see the three free-throws to force overtime against the Lakers? Cold.
HAMI HAMI HAMI
Hamidou Diallo is another player who showed a lot of improvement in this first part of the season. Diallo went from being considered just an athletic player in his first two seasons to be a significant piece of the big puzzle for the Thunder. In the past three games, Hami averaged 17.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists (yes, five-point-zero assists per game), and 1.0 steal. Diallo ranks third on the team this season for offensive rebounds, with one of them per game.
Improving. This is the primary goal for the Thunder. Darius is another player who’s growing in front of our eyes. In the past three games, he averaged a double-double in points and rebounds: 15.3 and 10.0. This is an important stat. Why you might ask. Because it’s not easy to play hard on both ends of the floor when your shot is not falling. In fact, Baze didn’t shoot the ball very well (35.6% FG, 23.5% 3PT, 76.9% FT), but he compensated by grabbing many rebounds and by making his presence felt on the court.
NEXT MAN UP
The next man up is the Thunder’s mentality shown in the past week (and to be fair, through the course of all season so far). Many players are out (injuries, rest, G-League) but, no matter who’s on the court, the team always gives 110%. And this is what the fans want to see. A young squad, fighting every time to win. It’s a rebuilding year, so the effort might not be enough to win many games, but it is a process, and it’s the perfect starting point to be successful again in a short amount of time.
- The Thunder ranked sixth in forced turnovers this past week with 15.3 per game.
- Last Saturday, Oklahoma City broke its record for points scored in a half time with eighty-three against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
- The Thunder also held opponents to only 32.5% from behind the arc, third in the NBA for this past week.
- Wednesday, 10th Feb: Thunder at Lakers
- Friday, 12th Feb: Thunder at Nuggets
- Sunday, 14th Feb: Thunder versus Bucks
- Tuesday, 16th Feb: Thunder versus Blazers