After an abysmal performance against the Sacramento Kings nine days ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder have been completely locked in as a team on both ends of the floor.
OKC defeated Phoenix, took care of business against the struggling San Antonio Spurs, and then hit the road out west to face the Golden State Warriors twice and the Portland Trail Blazers.
They’re returning home on a 5-game winning streak and the second-best record in the Western Conference. Who would have predicted this? Definitely not me.
I knew OKC would surprise a lot of people. I knew there’d be a vast improvement from last season. I predicted 48 wins. I definitely didn’t foresee OKC being 10-4 through 14 games and atop the conference.
Everything is going right for the Thunder, and everything’s going right for seemingly every rotational player as well.
From Isaiah Joe shooting 16-of-20 (80%) from 3 during OKC’s road trip to Chet scoring 36 points against the Warriors and hitting a game-tying fadeaway 3, and SGA doing what he does best––everything, the Thunder look like, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, one of the best teams in the NBA.
Something else that I knew about this squad going into the season is them being incredibly underrated, simply because no one knows what to expect from the second-youngest team in the league.
Well, it’s becoming pretty evident that the raw talent the Thunder possess is better than advertised. The mystery behind all of this is how high their ceiling is. We don’t know. Nobody knows. Are they simply a playoff team? Are they a second-round type of team? Is a Western Conference Finals appearance in the conversation? The average NBA fan, if asked right now, would laugh at the idea of the Thunder getting to the WCF. I’m not even willing to predict that, but again, no one knows what this team’s ceiling is, and that’s what makes this season worth tuning in to.
Gilgeous-Alexander remains atop the league in several categories, averaging 29.8 points (seventh in the league), 6.5 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game while continuing to pronounce himself as a defensive force, leading the league in steals with 2.6 per game.
Holmgren is the front-runner for Rookie of the Year, averaging 17.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 2.2 blocks per game while boasting a shooting split of 54.6/43.8/90.4.
Oklahoma City has a stretch of games that will offer further tests, including the Chicago Bulls, who they’ve beaten already this season, then two tough matchups against the Philadelphia 76ers (10-3) and the top team in the West, Minnesota Timberwolves (9-3).
So long, to the dark days of Thunder basketball.