Thunder stats you probably weren’t expecting

Mar 24, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dion Waiters (3) drives to the basket in front of ;Utah Jazz forward Trey Lyles (41) during the first quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 24, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Dion Waiters (3) drives to the basket in front of ;Utah Jazz forward Trey Lyles (41) during the first quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports /

Only 10 games remain for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s regular season, and a few of the statistics that were presented at the beginning of the season with the caveat “small sample size” can now be presented on their own. Instead of providing statistics that state that Kevin Durant is an elite shooter (he is), Russell Westbrook is near the top of the leaderboard in drives per game (obviously) or that Enes Kanter grabs a ton of rebounds (leads the league in offensive rebounding percentage), I’ll provide stats that you weren’t expecting.

Dion Waiters is better than Russell Westbrook

Well, in one particular area.

According to’s playtracking data, Waiters scores more points per possession (PPP) than Westbrook in isolation attempts (0.79 PPP and 0.73 PPP, respectively). The data only takes scoring plays into consideration, so an isolation attempt where Westbrook passes to a shooter on the perimeter doesn’t count toward his PPP. Most of this is due to the fact that teams load up on Westbrook’s attempts and encourage Waiters to try to take the defender by his lonesome.

To be clear, neither player is a good isolation scorer. Westbrook ranks in the 36th percentile in isolation scoring and Waiters is in the 46th percentile. It also should be obvious that the best isolation scorer on the team is Durant, who ranks in the 89th percentile in the league with 1.01 PPP.

Enes Kanter is the best transition scorer

This stat certainly reeks of small sample size as Kanter only has 73 transition possessions on the season (Westbrook has 430, for comparison), but on the rare occasion that Kanter gets the opportunity to score in transition, he’ll do just that.

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Kanter averages 1.32 PPP in those opportunities (transition opportunities are far more efficient than other scoring opportunities), which puts him in the 85th percentile in the league. He is often on the receiving end of a great Westbrook pass that leaves him with an easy dunk, but Kanter has also shown the ability to get a little creative when left to score on his own:

Cameron Payne: pick-and-roll maestro

This may be less surprising than the others, but Payne (who I affectionately refer to as Campayne on Twitter) has become one of the most effective pick-and-roll ball-handlers on the Thunder.

In 122 possessions as the ball-handler this year, Payne scores 0.94 PPP, which puts him in the 89th percentile in the league. Payne’s ability to hit the 3 (36.7% on the year), hit the short mid-range shot (52.9% from 10-16 feet) and not turn the ball over (he turns it over on only 9% of his pick-and-roll possessions, the lowest among qualifying Thunder players) makes him a weapon in the pick-and-roll.

In fact, most of the Thunder are good scorers as the ball-handler. Westbrook (0.85 PPP), Durant (0.94 PPP), Payne, D.J. Augustin (0.93 when he was with the Thunder) and Randy Foye (0.87) are all at least in the 70th percentile as pick-and-roll ball-handlers, although Augustin and Foye have only 72 possessions combined. The only player that has at least 10 possessions and hasn’t performed well this season is Dion Waiters (0.66 PPP, 26th percentile).

Enes Kanter is a good rebounder

This is another stat that shouldn’t be surprising, but something should be said for just how good Kanter is at rebounding. tracks “contested” (the nearest player is within 3.5 feet) and “uncontested” (nearest player is outside of 3.5 feet) rebounds, and Kanter grabs an equal amount of both (3.9 contested, 4.0 unconstested). Kanter also grabs the tough rebounds, something that can’t be said about every player.

Among players that average at least 4 rebounds per game, Kanter is fifth in the league with a contested rebound percentage of 49.6% (the percentage of total rebounds that were contested). Those above him are Joakim Noah (52.5%), who has only played 29 games, JaVale McGee (52.3%), who has played only 32 games, Robin Lopez (51.7%) and Clint Capela (50.7%).

I often give Kanter a hard time because he only does two things on the court, but I have to give him credit for doing those two things really well.

Russell Westbrook is a good shooter

Once you get inside the 3-point line, at least.

Westbrook is shooting 50% from 2 this season, which doesn’t sound too terribly impressive, but looking at his previous seasons helps show the improvement.

Westbrook entered this season as a career 45.5% shooter from 2, an average mark for a guard, but one that should be better for a scorer of his stature. This season, Westbrook is shooting 50%, but his percentage at the rim hasn’t improved dramatically (58.0% last season, 58.6% this season) or from 16 feet to the 3-point line (36.3% last season, 37.4% this season). But Russ has seen a dramatic improvement from 3 to 16 feet, as he’s improved almost 10% from 3-10 feet (31.0% to 41.6%) and almost 4% from 10-16 feet (40.2% to 43.8%)

Westbrook has also cut out a large portion of his long 2s (18.4% of his 2s were longer than 16 feet last year, only 10.6% this year) and distributed those shots to other areas.

Next: Bench power rankings

The most impressive part of Westbrook’s improvement inside the 3-point line is how bad he is outside the 3-point line. Among players that attempt at least four 3s per game, Westbrook has the second-lowest percentage. In theory, teams should be giving Westbrook more room when he’s on the 3-point line, which should make it harder to get to the areas inside the 3-point that he’s improved on so much. That hasn’t been the case this season, and even though it’s frustrating to watch him hopelessly shoot 3s 4.2 times per game, at least he’s scoring well inside the 3-point line.

Obviously stats aren’t everything, and in order to get a true feel on this (or any) team, you need to use the good ol’ eye test. But it’s always interesting to learn that no matter how plugged in to a team you think you are, there are always facts that can surprise you.

All stats from or, unless otherwise noted.