Here we go with the twelfth appointment with Keeping Up With the Thunder, and my five takes about the past week of Thunder basketball
The Oklahoma City Thunder played three games, all on the road, and ended up with a positive record of two wins and one loss. OKC defeated two bottom-of-the league rivals. On Sunday, they won in Houston against the Rockets, 114-112, and then on Monday in Minnesota against the Wolves, 112-103. The lone loss was a blowout in Atlanta last Thursday against the Hawks, 93-116.
NO TANK YOU
Well, this team is something special, right? No matter who sits out, who is playing, or what is the experience in the NBA. Everyone who steps on the floor in a Thunder jersey play as hard as it can possibly be. This is not a good recipe for losing as many games as needed to have a good draft position. Let us forget about the improvement of SGA and Dort for a moment. When I am saying every player, I really mean that. Poku seems to have found more confidence in the past few games, Maledon is growing in front of our eyes, while Moses Brown is becoming a double-double machine. Then you add Kenny Hustle, Jerome, and the new arrival Svi. All players are willing to go 110% every night. This is great for the franchise’s culture. Everyone who comes in embraces it without creating problems. No matter where the Thunder will pick in the next draft, the future looks already bright.
HELP FROM THE BENCH
In the past three games, the bench unit was extra valuable, excellent, I would say. The Thunder’s bench ranked fourth in points per game at 4,2.7, fourth in FG percentage at 51.6%, and first in 3PT percentage at 52.2%. This is all impressive. But it is not all. Oklahoma City’s second-lines finished the week also second in assists at 12.7 and fourth in plus/minus + 4.1. Wins are the result of a whole team effort.
SGA AND DORT, WINNERS
In their own way, they are both such impactful players. One is scoring a ton of points, the other one uses his elite defense. They complement each other, and they will be the duo of the future for this team. Against Minnesota, with Dort sitting out, Shai was fundamental for the Thunder’s win. He scored thirty-one points (in all possible ways and sauces) while adding three rebounds, four assists, one steal, and two blocks. Against the Rockets, with SGA not playing, Dort was the one who led the Thunder to a clutch win. He scored twenty-three points, and most importantly, he blocked John Wall’s layup, which would have put the Rockets up one point with less than ten seconds to play. If your rebuilding starts with such foundations, then it will not take long before this team is back on the top.
THE NEW ADDITION: SVI MYKHAILIUK
Yes, I copy-pasted his last name, and yes, I am still not sure it is written correctly. Svi joined the Thunder in the trade that sent Diallo to Detroit. I have to be honest I knew basically nothing about Svi when he was announced as a new OKC player. Well, now, after a game to settle in with the team in Atlanta, it is pretty clear that he is not just a fill-in to make the trade work. I know, I know, it is just a small sample size, but in the past two games, Svi (I will probably never use his last name, sorry Svi) averaged 12.5 points while shooting 55.6% from the floor and 45.5% from behind the arc (5.5 attempts per game). He also added 2.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.5 steals. I am not sure if Svi will keep up these numbers in the coming games, but if he can stay close to it, Sam Presti might have stolen another hidden gem.
- The Thunder made history against the Rockets on Sunday. The starting lineup of Theo Maledon, Lu Dort, Poku, Isaiah Roby, and Moses Brown is the second youngest lineup in NBA history and the youngest to win a game.
- The Oklahoma City Thunder fully guaranteed the final two years on guard Lu Dort’s contract for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons.
- Wednesday, March 25th: Thunder versus Grizzlies
- Saturday, March 27th: Thunder versus Celtics
- Monday, March 29th: Thunder versus Mavericks