Here we go with the tenth appointment with Keeping Up With the Thunder, and my five takes about the past week of Thunder basketball.
Finally, a positive week for the Oklahoma City Thunder! The team lead by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished the week (a long one this time) with three wins and two losses. The wins came twice against the Spurs, 102-99 in OKC and 107-102 in San Antonio, and one against the Atlanta Hawks, 118-109. The Thunder picked up a thirty-point loss against the Denver Nuggets, 96-126, and an ugly one in Dallas against the Mavs, 78-87.
ANOTHER STATEMENT WEEK FOR SGA
I don’t have any more words to describe how good SGA is. Stats and eye-test speak for him, but I wish to find cool adjectives to give you an idea. Anyone who reads this weekly recap already knows, but wow, he is simply incredible. The jump he took from last season has been phenomenal. One simple example? Last week, against the Spurs, Shai erupted for forty-two points (career-high). The underrated aspect is that he could have looked to score more points. He gave up that thought and just took the best decisions for the team. Shai can score from every position and in any way. He can drive to the basket through traffic, take step-back three-pointers with defenders all over him, mid-range shots, nothing he can’t do on offense. Here are SGA averages for the past five games: 25.4 points, 53.1% FG (16.2 attempts per game), 43.3% 3PT (6.0 3PTA per game), 84.8% FT (6.6 FTA per game). In addition to this, 5.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds.
IN LOVE WITH LU
I could write about Lu Dort every single week so much I like the way he plays basketball. If SGA was expected to improve (still impressive how much he did), this could not be said about Lu Dort. I am glad he surprised everyone and keep doing it. Dort has the highlight of the week: the buzzer-beater against the San Antonio Spurs. What a great moment for the second-year player! In the last week, besides the usual great defense, Dort averaged 11.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists. His three-point shooting was better as he shot 36.4% from behind the arc on 6.6 attempts per game.
TY JEROME, ANOTHER POSITIVE ADDITION
It looks like the Thunder could put any player on the court, and he will have a positive impact. Jerome played in Orlando’s bubble with the Oklahoma City Blue until Hami Diallo injured himself last week. The Thunder called him back up, and Ty was ready to go to battle. In his first four games, Jerome averaged 9.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. His shooting splits are also very positive: 50% FG and 36.8% from behind the arc on 4.8 attempts. A sweet surprise.
THE ALL-STAR BREAK
The Thunder enter the All-Star break with half of the total season games already played: fifteen wins and twenty-one losses. Now, I was dead wrong with my wins/losses prediction before the season started. I thought the Thunder would just win some games here and there, develop young players and look for the best draft position. I expected nineteen total wins. Well, they just need four wins from here to the end to reach that number.
After the break, Oklahoma City must decide where to go: either try to push for the play-in play-off mini-tournament (unlikely but not out of reach) or try to get the best position in the lottery in the upcoming and super talented draft. If they are stuck in the middle, then it might be the worst outcome. I’m sure Presti will make the right moves at the trade deadline to give the best future to the team.
- Due to an error, Thunder and Hawks played the first half with a similar Jersey. OKC was wearing the orange ones while the Hawks the classic reds. Very very bad. During halftime, OKC switched to white, and everyone who was watching the game felt eye relief.
- In the past five games, the Thunder ranked bottom five in FG% (28th), 3PT% (28th), and FT% (26th). OKC was still able to win three games
- Thursday, March 11th: Thunder versus Mavericks
- Saturday, March 13th: Thunder versus Knicks
- Sunday, March 14th: Thunder versus Grizzles
- Tuesday, March 16th: Thunder at Bulls