Keeping up with the Thunder (KUWTT), Week 9

Here we go with the ninth appointment with Keeping Up With the Thunder, and my five takes about the past week of Thunder basketball.

THE WEEK

The Oklahoma City Thunder ended this week with the same record as the previous one: one win and three losses. A common factor with the past week is that OKC fought in every game. However, after thirty-one games into the season, we know this is not a surprise anymore. The Thunder’s three losses came against the Memphis Grizzlies (113-122), the Milwaukee Bucks (85-98), and the Miami Heat (94-108). The single win was in Cleveland against the Cavs (117-101).

OH MY SHAI

What else can we say about SGA that hasn’t been said already? The third-year player is having a stellar season, and his improvement comes, not as a complete surprise, but I would say, close to it. Shai learned a lot under Chris Paul’s wing last year, and his hard work is translating into great performances on the court. Night in and night out. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should be an All-Star this year because, as the saying goes: men lies, women lies, stats don’t lie. SGA is averaging 22.8 points per game. He is shooting 50.6% from the floor, 40.7 from behind the arc, and 78.3 from the FT line. Add to this 6.5 assists per game and 5.2 rebounds. Shai is the best player on the court most of the time. This can’t be denied anymore.

FIRT HALF DEFENSE, TOP OF THE LEAGUE

The Thunder are one of the best first-half defensive teams in the league. I know it might sound like a strange stat, but it needs to be taken into consideration. Plus, if the Thunder were a full-game top defensive team, they probably would have a better record. This being said, let’s see some numbers. In the past week, OKC ranked third in defensive ratings in the first half at 99.5, they held opponents to 41% FG (1st), 29% 3PT (2nd), and 49.8 points allowed (3rd). Obviously, games are forty-eight minutes long, and being elite for half of it is not enough. However, for a bottom team, this is a solid base to start its development.

BENCH SUPPORT

The Thunder starters can always count on their backups. Multiple players can perform a scoring run every night, such as Diallo, Muscala, and Roby. All of these players had multiple double-digit scoring nights, especially Hami. Except for the game against the Heat, in the previous four-game, the bench was very solid. The breakfast club (this is how it’s called the Thunder’s second unit) averaged 39.0 points per game while shooting 51.8% from the floor. They also averaged 18.8 rebounds, 8.0 assists while having a plus-minus of plus 22.3. Big stuff right there.

MALEDON, A REAL STEAL

Theo Maledon might be a rookie, but he certainly doesn’t look like one. Two things impress me the most about Theo. His court vision and the calmness with which he plays. It seems that the game already slow down for him, and this is impressive for a nineteen years old. In the past week, Maledon averaged 10.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. Theo shot the ball particularly well: 51.9% FG, 52.6% 3PT (4.8 attempts per game!), and 100% from the FT line. Among all the rookies who played at least twenty-five games, Maledon ranks in the top ten for points (9th), rebounds (10th), assists (3rd), FG% (10th), 3PT% (6th), and FT% (10th). Not bad at all for the 34th pick of the last draft.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • After this week, Oklahoma City owns the fifth-worst record in the league at 12-19. Good news for the upcoming draft.

COMING UP

  • Wednesday, 24th Feb: Thunder versus Spurs
  • Friday, 26th Feb: Thunder versus Hawks
  • Saturday, 27th Feb: Thunder versus Nuggets

Alberto Bodei

Twitter: @euro_thunder

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