The Thunder have been on a tear of late, winning 14 of their last 15 games. At the beginning of the season, many people were writing them off somewhat, partly because of the Russell Westbrook injury and also since they didn’t make any big moves in the offseason.
Westbrook has come back completely healthy and the team is looking as good as it ever has. With a record of 20-4, can the Thunder play any better this season?
Despite their dominance lately, I think they can definitely improve. There are a few areas where they seem to not quite be reaching their potential and their young players like Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson can still continue to grow as well.
One area where we should definitely expect improvement from the Thunder is in their three-point shooting. OKC is shooting as a team just 32.9 percent from beyond the arc this season. Last year they were at 37.7 percent and the year before 35.8 percent.
This year’s team is made up a bit differently than the last two years and lack of outside shooting was a concern people had for the Thunder heading into this season. Kevin Martin, James Harden and Daequan Cook all provide solid three-point shooting the last two seasons and are no longer around.
The guys replacing those three are mainly Jackson and Lamb. Jackson has been particularly hot from behind the arc lately but is still shooting just 28.8 percent from deep on the season. Lamb has been solid all year long and is at 39.7 percent.
Those who are really struggling includes Thabo Sefolosha who is at just 26.8 percent and Russell Westbrook, who is at 30.0 percent. I think we could see Thabo and Russ bump that percentage up as well as Jackson, which would make this Thunder team that much better.
It’s always been relatively easy for the Thunder to get open three-pointers with Kevin Durant and Westbrook on the floor. They draw a lot of attention and open spot-ups will be available to guys like Thabo, Jackson and Lamb.
It takes more than just getting open to become a good three-point shooting team. It’s also about expecting to have those specific outside shots. They need to come from a rhythm of an offense.
This season, the Thunder are executing on the offensive end better than ever. They are more often getting the looks they want than ever before. I think that means that as the season rolls on and guys like Jackson, Thabo and Lamb are continuing to see these same opportunities, they will only become more efficient with them.
The room for improvement beyond the arc is one big thing the Thunder can get better at. The other ways of improvement will again just come from their young guys getting more reps.
Jackson seems to gain confidence with every game he plays. Lamb is really finding his stroke as well. Steven Adams was a monster at the beginning of the season and has since cooled off, but there are still lots of ways that he is showing signs of improvement as well.
The Thunder are scary for other teams right now. That’s why just about no one has been beating them. The scariest thing is what the future may have this Thunder team looking like by the playoffs. Yes, they’ve been great, but they can also be a lot better.