Despite delivering an unbeaten 4-0 week 14 while shorthanded the OKC Thunder failed to take much of a leap on most National pundits NBA power ranking lists.
A common denominator of the pundits NBA Power Rankings each week is the OKC Thunder rarely fluctuates between the 14th and 11th seed. The most common ranking is 13th.
For those who enjoy pouring over the power ranking lists to discover how each team fits in the analysts’ minds, it might be confusing that the Thunder never seem to break into the top 10 in spite of how they’ve grown and where they place in various categories.
Diving into the team’s strengths they’ve delivered in copious areas but the ones that should get the greatest attention and credit is their clutch time prowess, net differential rating, road record and how they’ve dealt with adversity. In each of those cases the Thunder excel. OKC owns clutch time and at worst are no worse than third in any clutch time statistic. They impressively possess the eighth best road record.
In terms of their net differential, only 13 teams have a positive net differential of which the Thunder rank 13th. If there is any single thing to point to as to why the pundits keep ranking the Thunder 13th this last factor may carry the most weight.
Moreover, each writer uses a unique set of factors to prioritize seeding. Some will place more emphasis on seasonal performance versus a specific week. And clearly some writers place more value on how they expect teams will perform in the postseason.
This inevitably will lead to certain clubs getting a pass for a bad week versus a team like the Thunder getting knocked down if they have a bad week and conversely don’t take huge jumps for the unbeaten week like they just delivered while shorthanded.
Ultimately, these rankings are opinion based and while it’s cool when the team gets recognized for overachieving, it’s also not surprising many pundits are wary of pushing the Thunder ahead of clubs they expect to have the best shot at Larry O’B.
With that let’s dive into where the top sites ranked the OKC Thunder in week 14.
NBA.com – John Schuhmann:
The first entry into week 14 serves up the musing of the NBA stat master John Schuhmann. All season long he’s held the OKC Thunder just at or above the middle line. Although his stats point to the Thunder prowess he rarely moves them inside his top 10.
That they clear the mark this week at moving up to 10th ( a four rung jump) is progress.
Here’s a portion of his excerpt…
The Thunder have the league’s third best record (22-8) since Thanksgiving, and their current, five-game winning streak has been their best stretch of the season (plus-12.0 points per 100 possessions). It has taken them into a tie in the win column with the sixth-place Mavs, who will be in Oklahoma City on Monday. The OKC offense ranks fifth in January (115.4 points scored per 100 possessions) and remains balanced between its top four scorers, who have all averaged between 18.8 and 21.7 points this month.
To read the rest of the above excerpt by Schuhmann and the entirety of his power ranking list click on the following link.
ESPN – Panel
ESPN’s panel: ESPN: Tim MacMahon |Andre’ Snellings | Royce Young | Bobby Marks, The Undefeated: Marc J. Spears
The continual placement of the Thunder at 13th is somewhat confusing. Even the panel’s excerpt this week speaks to their achievements but fails to reward them for it. This speaks to the group placing more credence on clubs they believe have the best postseason opportunities over how they actually perform on a week by week basis in season.
Click this link for the full panel rankings.
It seems each week raises the question, “Wait, are the Thunder actually this good?” And the answer has consistently been, “Yes, the Thunder are this good.” They are 22-8 in their past 30 games — that is a 60-win pace — and have won nine of their past 10 road games. And they’ve done it with plenty of adversity too, relying on their suddenly impressive depth. As long as Dennis Schroder, Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander play — that trio has a net rating of plus-29.3 in 311 minutes — they’re good. — Young
Grant Hughes from Bleacher Report might be the biggest fan of the trio point guard system Billy Donovan runs. For weeks his ranking excerpt focused on Chris Paul then he moved on to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and this week it’s Dennis Schroder’s turn.
Hughes also is one of the few scribes willing to give credit to the Thunder for their current play and actual record as opposed to what might happen at season end or the reputation of the team.
To that end, he moves OKC from 11th up to ninth on his week 14 list.
A portion of his excerpt is noted below and you can catch the rest along with Hughe’s full rankings by clicking this link.
With averages of 18.8 points and 3.9 assists on a 47.3/38.3/81.9 shooting split, the seventh-year guard is on the shortest of short lists for sixth man of the year. When he, CP3 and SGA share the floor, Oklahoma City bludgeons opponents by 29.3 points per 100 possessions, the best figure for any three-man group in the league among those who’ve played at least 300 minutes.
Sports Illustrated – The Crossover
Like many of the pundits Sports Illustrated, The Crossover’s writer Michael Shapiro recognizes how impressive the OKC Thunder are playing. This week his insights on the Thunder reflect their dominance in clutch time.
Yet, in his rankings, like many of his peers that dominance gets mentioned but not rewarded. For the fifth consecutive week, he holds OKC steady in the 13th seed.
For Shapiro’s full ranking list of week 14 click this link.
The Thunder have exceeded expectations to a significant degree this season, largely thanks to its crunch-time chops. OKC leads the league in clutch net rating, per NBA data, and Chris Paul leads all players in clutch points. Fellow point guard Shai-Gilgeous Alexander is 24-36 from the field in the clutch. Danilo Gallinari also ranks in the top 10 in clutch points. There must be something in the water near Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Phil Watson the Editor of Hoops Habit like his peers has held the Thunder in the middle ground most weeks. For week 14 he rewards their 4-0 week with a one spot rise from 13th to 12th on his list.
For the full excerpt and the rest of Watson’s rankings click this link.
After a 130-127 loss at home to the Lakers on Nov. 22, the Oklahoma City Thunder were 5-10. Since then, the Thunder are 23-9 — the third-best record in the NBA over that span behind only Milwaukee’s 28-3 ridiculousness and the Lakers’ 23-8 mark. Over those 32 games, OKC is ninth in offensive rating and 10th in defensive rating. They’ve been very good.
CBS Sports scribe Colin Ward-Henninger does things a little differently in week 14 selecting the player “most likely” to be traded by each team. Ward-Henninger does make sure to state this doesn’t mean the player is even on the table or been discussed – – rather it’s simply most likely.
Also in week 14, the CBS scribe moves the Thunder from 14th up a single spot to 13th.
For Ward-Henniger’s full power ranking list click this link.
Dennis Schroder: In the midst of a breakout season, Schroder has made himself an attractive trade asset with his recent play. Danilo Gallinari is expiring, but the Thunder need him much more than Schroder given their strong backcourt of Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The extra year on Schroder’s contract makes him more than a rental, which could allow the Thunder to get more back in return.
The Thunderous Intentions power rankings place more credence on how teams perform weekly. Clubs who excel in any given week are rewarded and conversely a winless week drops teams down the ladder.
As such the fact the Thunder was one of two clubs to post a 4-0 week (Raptors) gets rewarded. Full disclosure – we’re a little biased here at T.I. so it shouldn’t be surprising our ranking is the highest on the list at 7th.
Perhaps that’s a bit high, but given the adversity the team faced while they dispensed of the Rockets, Magic, Hawks, and Wolves merit recognition.
In fairness, T.I. was one of the first sites to move up the Heat early this season and reward the Grizzlies, weeks before they jumped above the midway mark on most of our counterparts lists. So, yes the bias is real – but rewarding performance isn’t isolated to the home team.
For the full Thunderous Intentions, power ranking, click this link of the blue box below.
More importantly, they did it while navigating a particularly tough week which required end of bench players to step up. The ease with which the Thunder took down the Wolves with only a hobbled Steven Adams and Mike Muscalsa to provide center minutes against Karl-Anthony Towns added to the awe of the fan base.
As the team continues to display clutch time prowess they’ve also turned a corner in terms of dispensing of clubs who aren’t in the upper tier.
That wraps up the column for where the pundits ranked the OKC Thunder in week 14. The club’s high rank was 7th and the lowest rank is 13th.
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