Oklahoma City Thunder: Where NBA National Scribes Power Rank OKC in Week 21

Mar 3, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Doug McDermott (25) reacts against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 3, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Doug McDermott (25) reacts against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Two weeks ago the Oklahoma City Thunder went 2-1 with wins against the Utah jazz and San Antonio Spurs. They continued to trend upward this week with a 3-0 record.

The Oklahoma City Thunder took care of business last week going 3-0 with wins by 16, 18 and 21. Only one of those victories was over a quality team. But winning the games you are supposed to win goes a long way in the NBA.

Russell Westbrook continued to make an effort to get his teammates involved and it showed. Westbrook finished the week without scoring 30 points in a game and had 45 assists in the three games.

The shakeup in the starting lineup has continued to pay dividends. In the 80 minutes Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, Andre Roberson, Taj Gibson and Steven Adams have played together they have outscored opponents by 21.9 points per 100 possession per nba.com.

The Thunder are starting to play their best basketball of the season and are making progress on moving up in the standings. Let’s see if they made up any ground in the power rankings.

NBA.com – John Schuhmann

In his rankings this week John Schuhmann was impressed with the Oklahoma City Thunder offense.  This led to him moving the Thunder up three spots to number five.

"Russell Westbrook has averaged 26.6 points and 14.4 assists over the Thunder’s five-game winning streak, but has seen a decrease in usage rate (from 41.5 percent prior to 35.7 percent during the streak) and increase in the percentage of his own buckets that have been assisted (from 18 percent to 33 percent). The streak has been one of OKC’s best offensive stretches of the season (115 points scored per 100 possessions) and has given them a shot at a top-4 seed in the West. They’ve also held three of the five opponents under a point per possession, with six more games remaining against top 10 offenses. They play the Warriors, Rockets and Spurs in the next 12 days."

ESPN – Marc Stein

Marc Stein moved the Oklahoma City Thunder up in his rankings two spots to number nine. He is the lowest of all our rankers.

"We caught a lot of flak going into the season when we said that the Thunder had a shot at 50 wins even without Kevin Durant. The 10-3 finish they’d need to get there from here seems unlikely, but this latest burst of triple-double brilliance from Russell Westbrook has put the No. 5 seed in play for OKC, which could only enhance his MVP case.After a six-game stretch (2-4) in which he averaged 44.0 PPG but only 8.0 APG, seemingly jeopardizing his chances of finishing the season with a triple-double average, Westbrook has averaged 26.6 PPG, 10.8 RPG and 14.4 APG during the Thunder’s five-game winning streak, prompting ESPN Insider’s unstoppable Kevin Pelton to compute that Angry Russ has a 97 percent chance now to average a triple-double for the entire 2016-17 campaign."

Sports Illustrated – Jeremy Woo

Jeremy Woo noticed that the Thunder are starting to peak at the right time. Like Schuhmann, he moved them up to number five in his rankings.

"This is not a new question by any means, but it’s one that bears repeating: exactly how far can Russell Westbrook carry this team? Right now he’s lifted the Thunder to five straight wins, entering Monday night’s showdown with the Durant-less Warriors. The Thunder also notably have the Rockets on tap this week. And as the post-season looms, those two teams remain the most compelling (and obvious) matchups for the fighting Westbrooks of Oklahoma.It’s natural and defensible to look at the Thunder as a critical playoff plot point as April approaches because they’re an increasingly steady vehicle for their relentless superstar..At this rate, they’re inching closer to a four seed (where they’d likely have a chance for a second–round crack at Golden State), and if things stay constant, the potential of a Westbrook-Harden first-round showdown is just too juicy. For better or worse, Russell Westbrook has his own gravitational field this year.Breathless prognostication aside, OKC’s peaking at the right time. …Sure, teams will gameplan hard for Russ in a seven–game series but there’s nobody who really wants to try and beat this guy four times. There won’t be a more fascinating team to watch in the first round."

CBS Sports – Matt Moore

Despite a 3-0 week, Matt Moore keeps the Thunder at number eight in his rankings.

"OKC’s playing its best basketball at the right time. They host the KD-less Warriors again Monday, then face the Beard’s Rockets next weekend. They need a good week to keep putting pressure on Utah for the fourth seed."

The Oklahoma City Thunder have three games this week. They play the Golden State Cupcakes Monday night and Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday both at home. They then travel to Houston on Sunday for a prime time afternoon match-up with the Rockets.

More from Thunderous Intentions

For full entries by the above scribes click on the links.

This is another good chance for them to string together a winning streak and move up in the standings. Check back here next week to see how the National Scribes think they did!