OKC Thunder: Dissecting 16 playoff seeds and 4 WC team records

OKC Thunder (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Chris Paul #3 talks with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

OKC Thunder:

  • 64 games played (40-24)
  • Record versus seeded teams: 31 occasions (13-18)
  • Record versus lottery teams: 33 occasions (27-6).
  • Home record (20-13)
  • Road record: (20-11)
  • Back to back sets: 10 played (11-9)
    • two sets with both teams seeded (1-3)
    • seven with one seed/one lottery seed (8-6)
    • one with both teams in the lottery (2-0)

The league hiatus came at a pivotal juncture for the OKC Thunder who were on the precipice of overtaking the Jazz for fourth in the West. In hindsight, since there won’t be any home-court advantage the value of that game isn’t necessarily as high.  That said, the decisions made by Adam Silver could still have a profound effect on the Thunder.

In one scenario, the NBA might jump directly into the playoffs without any additional games played. If that option is made combined with league seeding instead of conference seeding the Thunder would draw the Heat instead of the Jazz. And, while the Heat has a slew of youngsters this isn’t a preferable opponent over the Jazz.

While many pundits and fans want a play-in tournament to allow the four Western clubs positioned outside the playoffs it’s important to note how teams on the ladder also have a lot invested in playing more games.

OKC specifically could potentially move from fifth to third as they trail the Jazz by a single game and the Nuggets by 2.5. In the league ranking, the Thunder are ninth, again, trailing the Jazz (1.0), Nuggets (2.5) as well as the Heat (0.5). Although OKC has the same record as the Rockets they won the season series so they hold the tiebreak.

The Thunder hit the hiatus on fire having won eight of their last ten games but this time off could prove advantageous since Chris Paul and Steven Adams specifically will benefit from the rest. Luguentz Dort who will likely be signed to a contract upon his return will also benefit as will Darius Bazley as both are rookies getting accustomed to playing more games at the pro level.

A key takeaway that can be gleaned from the Thunder record and performance is how well they’ve played since the opening 20 games of the season. Specifically, the Thunder lost 12 games in that period. Moreover, seven of their 11 road losses occurred in this section and four of their nine back-to-back losses came in this frame.

While teams like the Clippers dealt with injuries and were unable to develop chemistry the Thunder adapted during this opening season segment growing into the clutch time killers.  Moving forward, logically the Thunder would want to play more regular-season games that count toward the record and resume the chemistry they built over 64 games.

The one caveat is OKC also has to make a decision regarding their placement and whether they lose a few games on purpose (gasp). The reason is OKC will retain their own draft pick if they finish 11th or lower.