Power rankings Week 23: OKC Thunder trend down again

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 20: Jayson Tatum
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 20: Jayson Tatum /

Week 23 of power rankings are in with the OKC Thunder ranking seventh in all but one scribes opinion.

The old adage what goes up must come down unfortunately proved true for the OKC Thunder. After experiencing their best week in the power ranking lists with scribes unilaterally raising them, this week all but one scribe drops OKC down their lists.

With teams embroiled in the stretch run and maneuvering to either get into the postseason or improve their seeds competition has been stiff. Clearly it behooves teams to find their mojo at this time of year and carry it into the playoffs.

But, few teams are rolling with either injuries, fatigue or poorly timed losing streaks affecting their play. For OKC the schedule Gods did them no favors serving up a bevy of playoff seeded (or chasing berths) teams to finish the season. They’ve responded by looking like absolutely the most lethal squad on the planet, but began this week by blowing a game in 24 seconds which they comfortably lead.

The question is how much that loss affected the teams mental state. This week the scribes power rankings look at the OKC Thunder based on games versus the Celtics, Heat and Blazers.

 NBA.com – John Schuhmann

The scribe who dives into the stats to find glaring holes found a culvert for Carmelo Anthony. Had he waited one week the numbers wouldn’t have been as tragic. Then again, that’s what makes John Schuhmann the statsmaster

This week Schuhmann dropped the Thunder one spot from sixth to seventh in his rankings.

"Last week was not a good week for Carmelo Anthony in the clutch. On Tuesday, his two missed free throws with eight seconds left to open the door for Marcus Morris’ game-winner in Boston, as the Thunder blew a six-point lead with 20 seconds to go. And on Sunday, Anthony missed four threes down the stretch against Portland, as OKC blew a chance to put some real pressure on the Blazers for third place in the West. Only Tyreke Evans (29 percent) has shot worse on at least 50 clutch shots than Anthony (30 percent, 6-for-31 from 3-point range) this season, and with his free throw rate at just nine attempts per 100 shots from the field in February and March, Anthony’s true shooting percentage is a career-low 50.8 percent."

ESPN – Panel

After three consecutive weeks of raising the OKC Thunder up their list the panel drops the team from fifth to seventh. And, like Schuhmann the panel jumped on the Melo bashing train. Wonder if the players read these rankings and it’s why Anthony decided on his own to keep Jerami Grant in the game versus the Nuggets this week.

ESPN’s panel:

ESPN: Kevin Arnovitz | Amin Elhassan |Ramona Shelburne

The Undefeated: Marc J. Spears | FiveThirtyEight: Chris Herring

"Should there be a shake-up to OKC’s end-of-game strategy? Carmelo Anthony went 0-for-4 with a turnover down the stretch of Sunday’s loss, and on the season is now shooting under 30 percent in clutch time despite ranking second on the team in clutch-time attempts. Over the past three seasons, there are 100 instances of a player attempting at least 60 shots in the final five minutes and the score within five. Anthony this season is the only one of them to shoot under 30 percent. — Micah Adams"

Bleacher Report:

Grant Hughes was the only scribe who moved the OKC Thunder up a spot this week. Before jumping to conclusions note Grant’s scheduled is different than the other scribes (read: expect a dip from him in next week’s rankings). Last week Hughes ranked OKC seventh and this week moves them one rung up to sixth

Notably, the passage below is just a small segment of Hughe’s comments. He offers consistently interesting insight so make sure to visit Bleacher Report to catch his entire rankings and full opinion piece on the Thunder.

"… Russell Westbrook scored 17 fourth-quarter points to help beat the Heat by a final of 105-99 on Friday, which gives us the opportunity to clarify what’s going on with the Thunder this year. For all the lamenting about Carmelo Anthony’s disappointing season (seriously, though, what did you expect from a 33-year-old?), the void at shooting guard and the clunky offense, the real difference between this season and last is simple.OKC hasn’t been as good in the clutch. And we should have seen that coming."

Sports Illustrated – The Crossover

As Rohan Nadkarni says a slide down the standings would be unsurprising and that’s precisely what occurred. Nadkarni drops the squad from their high of fourth last week to seventh.

The Thunder had a down week thanks to a silly loss in Boston and a close defeat at the hands of the Blazers. Apparently, Corey Brewer can only do so much! I have more faith in this team now than at any point earlier this season, but a slide down the standings would still be somehow unsurprising.

CBS Sports:

As has been the trend Chris Barnewell follows suit and drops the OKC Thunder this week. Barnewell has mixed in interesting ways to do the power rankings differently. One week it was looking at potential award winners.

More from Thunderous Intentions

This week his comments are based on injuries. Clearly, the OKC Thunder were on a different trajectory prior to Andre Roberson going down. The more I watch this team squander leads or when Adams is off the court the more I value ARob.

Barnewell recognizes the same and states something we should probably mention more, which is Roberson would likely have won DPOY this season had he not been injured. Last week Barnewell raised the Thunder eight spots, but this week he drops them from sixth to seventh.

"Losing Andre Roberson for the season was awful for the Thunder. He was arguably the runaway candidate to win Defensive Player of The Year before he ruptured his patellar tendon in late January."

Next week the power rankings will cover games versus the games versus the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans. Talk about stiff competition. The final two weeks will then assess rankings based on games versus the Warriors and Rockets and the last week will wrap up the season looking at the games in Miami and at home to close out the season versus the the Grizzlies.