As teams moved past the trade deadline the new rosters did little to affect week 16 of NBA Power Rankings and the OKC Thunder held steady for most writers.
Although many pundits expected the OKC Thunder to be active at the trade deadline when they made no moves it also didn’t shock them. Competitive all season the OKC Thunder continues to be looked upon as a potential dark horse with the potential to upset a team in the first round — as long as they avoid the eighth or seventh seeds.
Week 16 also noted how teams coming into the break have a tendency to lose focus which is dangerous as players can end up picking up injuries through a lack of focus. As it is this week witnessed teams playing between two and four games heading into the last week before the break when most clubs play twice.
One notable difference is several writers who seemed hesitant to move the squad up into the top 10 or near that range finally are. It’s likely most pundits were treating this team similar to the Suns or last seasons Clippers and Kings. That is to say – they were waiting to see if the bottom would fall out and to see what they would do at the deadline. Having proven they aren’t a flash in the pan and kept the roster intact, writers are now willing to be less hesitant in their ranking.
With that let’s dive into where the top sites ranked the OKC Thunder in week 16.
NBA.com – John Schuhmann:
For the second consecutive week, NBA scribe John Schuhmann held the OKC Thunder steady in ninth.
Schuhmann touches on Dennis Schroder’s effect on the team, particularly in clutch time.
Here’s a portion of his excerpt from this week …
The Schroder lineup is generally saved for the last few minutes of each half. And it’s a big reason why the Thunder lead the league with 23 wins in games that were within five points in the last five minutes. Schroder is the leading candidate to unseat Lou Williams as Sixth Man of the Year, leading the league in total minutes, points and cumulative plus-minus off the bench.
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
FINALLY — it took until week 16 for the Panel to recognize the OKC Thunder weren’t going away and they move them into their top 10. Despite their horrid January schedule and the wins continuing both at home and on the road the Panel kept putting teams in front of them even though they suffered bad weeks.
It seems they can’t ignore the Thunder any longer and move OKC out of their 13th rank where they’ve been ranked for weeks into the top 10.
Click this link for the full panel rankings and the rest of the excerpt.
OKC’s roster survived the trade deadline intact, and the Thunder are ready to make a second-half run and see how good they really are. Sunday’s one-point loss to the Celtics was a high-level, intense test, with two intelligent teams trying to out-execute each other down the stretch. The Thunder have made a habit out of winning those, but they missed some chip shots and ran into the clutch-time stylings of Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart. Oklahoma City has spent the season surpassing expectations but also has gone just 8-17 versus teams .500 or better. — Young
Writer Grant Hughes moved the Thunder into a high for all the pundits last week by ranking them sixth on the ladder. With the trade deadline behind and the roster intact he keeps them close ranking them seventh in week 16.
A portion of his excerpt is noted below and you can catch the rest along with Hughe’s full rankings by clicking this link.
OKC isn’t a championship threat, but it’ll pose a challenge for anyone in the playoffs. So even if the long-term play probably should have been to offload short-timers for future assets, sometimes it’s refreshing to see a team crack its knuckles and try to win games with what it has.
With nine victories in its last 11 games, OKC is succeeding in that effort.
Sports Illustrated – The Crossover
Sports Illustrated, The Crossover’s writer Michael Shapiro cautiously moved the Thunder from 13th up one spot to 12th. Shapiro cites something we’ve touched on previously in T.I. columns. That’s the Lu Dort can’t practice with the team since it counts toward his 45 day total which would elapse quickly if he did participate in practice sessions.
For Shapiro’s full ranking list of week 16 click this link.
Speaking of perhaps arcane rules, the Thunder have run into a difficult situation with rookie Luguentz Dort. The shooting guard has started the last nine games for the Thunder, but he’s currently sitting out OKC’s practices in order to preserve his 45-days of available service time on a two-way contract. The practice time could be vital for Dort’s development, who is emerging as a quality contributor. It’s unfair for his growth to be stunted in the name of service time. The NBA would be smart to alter its two-way policy to only consider games played as a service-time metric.
The team hasn’t necessarily impressed writer Phil Watson of Hoops Habit who never moves them up into his top ten rankings. He holds them steady in 12th for another week.
For the full excerpt and the rest of Watson’s rankings click this link.
It was a workmanlike week for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who took care of business at home against Eastern also-rans in the Cavaliers and Pistons. Oklahoma City has now won four straight games and nine of its last 10 to move to a season-best 12 games above the .500 mark. OKC is 27-10 since Nov. 25.
Like many of his peers, CBS Sports Colin Ward-Henniger has shown reluctance to move the OKC Thunder up his rankings. This week things change as noted in the opening the fact the team remained intact at the deadline may have something to do with that. To that end, in week 16 Ward-Henneger jumps the Thunder up two rungs from 13th to 11th.
For Ward-Henniger’s full power ranking list click this link.
The Thunder took care of business against the Cavs and Pistons to start the week, then lost a close game to the Celtics on Sunday. OKC was reportedly close to a deal that would have sent Danilo Gallinari to the Heat before the deadline, but it ultimately held onto the sharpshooter. That’s good news for Thunder fans, as OKC looks to be a tough out for whichever team draws them in the playoffs.
Not surprisingly Thunderous Intentions continues to recognize the clubs prowess in all areas (and their weaknesses) and are willing to reward them for those efforts. As per usual TI’s rank of seventh is one of the highest among the rankings doled out.
For the full Thunderous Intentions, power ranking, click this link of the blue box below.
The lesson learned moving forward is that by allowing teams to jump on them from the tip or after the break puts them in holes where they have to expend so much energy just to get to that clutch time where they’ve dominated won’t always work in their favor — especially against the elite clubs.
That wraps up the column for where the pundits ranked the OKC Thunder in week 16. The club’s high rank was 7th and the lowest rank is 12th.
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