The OKC Thunder has officially reached the stretch segment of the season schedule and with it T.I. offers the report card for the core players and coach.
Although the technical halfway point of the season is 41 games most in the league consider the halfway mark to begin after the All-Star Break. More accurately, this period should be referred to as ‘the stretch” since most teams have 25 to 30 games remaining. With that TI reflects upon the season up to the break, in terms of how each player has performed. where the OKC Thunder registered a record of 33-22.
For comparison, last season with two superstars on the club and a Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year candidate the team’s record was 36-19 through 55 games. In their final 27 games the Thunder went 13-14 which means if this iteration of the Thunder finishes the stretch run winning 16 games they’ll tie their efforts from last year.
That this iteration of the club has won only three fewer games at the same stage is a huge accomplishment. Ironically the schedule through the first half last season was far easier than what this year’s team has faced.
Then again, that pretty much sums up this team — winning games they theoretically shouldn’t with a roster of players who were underestimated or were unceremoniously put out to pasture so to speak.
Preseason, the OKC Thunder weren’t expected to even be in the playoff mix but have shocked seemingly everyone but Kendrick Perkins with their performance through the halfway point.
That said, the Thunder are no longer flying under the radar. The best-kept secret in the Association isn’t a secret any longer since OKC posted the West’s best record in December, have the top West record since December 9th and are the clutch time killers.
This means teams won’t be sleeping on OKC the remainder of the season. Opponents will jump on them from the tip and coming out of the break to take advantage of their few bad habits.
Sam Presti stood pat at the deadline with the only question moving forward is whether the GM will elect to add anyone through the buyout market (but they’d have to waive someone if they do).
In terms of the individuals on this iteration of the OKC Thunder, there are definitive takeaways from the 55 games played. Some grades may seem overly generous, but the fact this team was supposed to be where the Golden State Warriors currently reside it’s safe to say this squad has overachieved and subsequently the grades reflect that accomplishment.
As the team prepares for the stretch Thunderous Intentions dives into the core group and offers a grade through the halfway point in the season.
As a companion piece to this article note writer Matt Hallett is producing a series looking at each individual with an emphasis on what they should focus on improving.
With that let’s get to the grades.