The Oklahoma City Thunder are on a five-game winning streak. They’ve grown in a variety of areas, except one crucial area.
Recently, the Oklahoma City Thunder took care of the New Orleans Pelicans at home 101-92. This is a great victory for the Thunder. They’ve won five in a row, Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double, and the team scored 62 points in the paint.
The Thunder brought defense into this game as well. OKC scored 14 points off 11 turnovers, leading to 25 fast break points. On the surface, the Thunder looked exceptional against the Pelicans who have struggled this season. However, there’s one area the Thunder must improve on, and that area is three point shooting.
Currently, the Thunder rank 20th in the NBA in three-point percentage shooting 34.1% this season. Against the Pelicans, the Thunder shot 0-of-15 in the first half. The second half proved to be better for the Thunder as they shot 6-of-13 from three.
The Thunder took 28 shots from three, making only six. The worst part isn’t that OKC missed 22 shots from three. Rather, it’s that it gave the Pelicans the upper hand in the first quarter, especially since New Orleans scored off of each of the 15 missed threes.
Despite the horrid three point shooting from the Thunder, it is not the worst on record. That honor belongs to the Denver Nuggets, who in 2012, shot 0-of-22 from three against Portland.
It’s no secret that the NBA is becoming a long-bomb league. It was just over a week ago that the Houston Rockets set an NBA record attempting 50 three’s against the Sacramento Kings. That said, the Thunder are guilty of falling in love with the three ball at times as well.
The Thunder attempt an average of 25.8 three’s a game, which ranks 13th in the Association. Of their 25.8 attempts the Thunder successfully make an average of 8.8. Ironically the Thunder could learn a lesson from the Spurs who they are tied with in 15th for those 8.8 makes (as well as the Lakers). The Spurs take close to 4 less attempts (3.9), but lead the league in efficiency for their perimeter shot at 40.%
Suffice to say the Thunder should cut their attempts in half. This team plays so much better when they attack the paint.
Part of the Thunder’s success in the paint stems from Enes Kanter getting minutes. Against the Pelicans, Kanter played 29 minutes in part due to the injury to Steven Adams. While the Thunder need Adams’ defense, they also need Kanter’s offense.
The Thunder must resist the urge to shoot the three ball if they are to contend this season. Normally, coaches will tell a shooter to keep shooting when it comes to the three-ball. However, once you go 0-of-10, it’s best to attack them rim.
The Thunder will look to stay afloat and win their sixth straight against the Atlanta Hawks. As of now, it’s unclear if the injury to Adams will keep him sidelined in Atlanta.