A closer look at OKC’s Big Three this year

The Oklahoma City Thunder currently sit atop the Western Conference standings with a 21-6 record this season.

Of course, the biggest players on the Thunder roster this season have been Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Sixth Man of the Year frontrunner James Harden. The three have turned into one of the best trios in the league and nearly all made the All-Star team this season.

How are they doing this season? The Thunder seem like the same team this year but what do the numbers say? Let’s take a look beginning with KD.

Durant is currently third in the NBA in PER (26.40) behind LeBron James and some guy named Jeremy Lin. He is one of the leading candidates for the MVP this season and if not for James’ career-year so far, would probably be the frontrunner.

Durant is fourth in the NBA playing 38.1 minutes per game and is sixth in the NBA in usage rate at 31.22. His field goal percentage of 50.5 is a career-high and the most impressive part of Durant’s game this year.

Durant is taking more shots closer to the rim this season than ever before and attempting the least long twos (16-23 feet) of his career. However, Durant is shooting a blistering 51.0 percent on long twos this season and a career-high 53.1 percent on shots from 3-to-9 feet.

One area Durant has regressed in is his free throw rate. He’s only attempting 7.2 free throw attempts per game this season down from 8.7 last year and 10.2 the year before.

Now on to Westbrook.

Westbrook is shooting the best he has in his career from the field at 46.7 percent. He is averaging 35.1 minutes per game with a higher usage rate than Durant at 33.14 (2nd in the NBA). This is expected from Westbrook and not necessarily a bad thing since he can do more things than Durant.

Westbrook is shooting career-highs of 62.2 percent at the rim and 42.0 percent from 16-to-23 feet. While the shooting has been impressive from Westbrook, his assists are considerably down from 8.2 per game last year to just 5.7 this season.

Perhaps Harden is taking away from some of the playmaking Westbrook was making last year. Harden is averaging higher numbers all across the board this season including averaging 3.4 assists this year compared to just 2.1 last season.

Harden has one of the best true shooting percentages in the NBA at 64.0 percent. He’s hitting 69.0 percent of shots at the rim and has an effective three-point percentage of 54.6.

Harden is also getting to the line more this season averaging 6.5 free throws per game after getting to the line 4.2 times per game last season.

As the season goes on and the Thunder enter the playoffs, the Thunder may need Durant and Westbrook to start getting to the line more. The Thunder have been running a lot this season and as the game slows down in the playoffs, this will probably happen.

Westbrook’s assists should go up too but that will also have a lot to do with Ibaka who finds himself open under the rim and for 15-footers a lot in the Thunder offense. Look for Westbrook and Ibaka’s numbers to both rise as one as the season goes on.

Oklahoma City has been more than impressive this season and they might be establishing themselves as the title favorites this year. The matchup that will tell us the most about this team won’t happen until March 25 when they host the Miami Heat.

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Tags: James Harden Kevin Durant Russell Westbrook

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