OKC Thunder ascend national sites power rankings week one

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder is guarded by Devonte' Graham . (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder is guarded by Devonte' Graham . (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

A topsy turvy week one threw the national power rankings for a loop but the OKC Thunder impressed with their competitiveness and upside.

Leading into the first week of action most national pundits ranked the OKC Thunder last or in the bottom three. But, an impressive win found virtually every analyst moving them up the ladder even if it was just a few rungs.

More surprising for the scribes was how last season’s elite teams and lottery teams seemingly switched spots in the opening week. While there were expected standouts such as the Lakers, Nets, and Clippers their initial successes at least for the latter two were tempered by incredulous losses.

Some of the overachievers will come back down to earth while other perennial playoff teams will find their footing.  To expect the rise of all the lottery teams to continue isn’t in the cards though a few will have staying power.

For example, last season the Suns started 5-2 losing only to the Nuggets and Jazz, but followed that with a run of 6-18. Granted the Suns appear to be one of the teams who’ll make a rise but the point is don’t expect the Cavaliers, Kings, and Magic to be sitting in their same current position when 72 games are in the books.

As per usual, Thunderous Intentions has compiled the national site musings on the OKC Thunder and noted where each scribe ranks the team among the 30 in the association.

OKC Thunder ascends national pundits power rankings week one ladder:

With that let’s see where the National pundits rank the OKC Thunder in week one of the NBA  Power Rankings.

NBA.com – John Schuhmann:

Following the first week of play, the stats master kept it seeding teams based on a combination of their output and their potential.

As such, the OKC Thunder who’ll inarguably find themselves landing further down his ladder as the season progresses ranked 27th. Granted, there was only one game to access so we’ll await week two and see if Schuhmann credits this young crew for their competitive spirit, defensive ability, and keeping games within range.

The following is an excerpt from his Thunder comments:

"Oklahoma City ThunderRecord: 1-0Pace: 105.5 (7) OffRtg: 103.8 (24) DefRtg: 100.9 (3) NetRtg: +2.9 (13)Break up the Thunder! (Wait, that’s already been done.) They’re 1-0, the only undefeated team in the Western Conference —  But there’s reason to believe, given the personnel, that this team can continue to defend decently.As Shai Gilgeous-Alexander took the keys to the offense, he exhibited both great patience and great brakes. The Hornets blitzed his pick-and-rolls to try get the ball out of his hands. But he just waited it out, allowed the second defender to retreat, and then attacked. And when he attacks, he has that ability to just stop on a dime, let his defender keep going, and finish with the space he created. Witness the game-winner."

For the full version of Schuhman’s Thunder comments and the rest of his power rankings click here.

ESPN Poll:

The ESPN panel votes on seeding and seeded the OKC Thunder 26th after one week and one game to analyze. As per usual, Royce Young offers the excerpt on OKC stating the obvious that there will be moments of bliss mixed with rough losses. The full listing can be found here.

"There’s a strange purgatory for tanking — ahem, repositioning — teams where the actual current existing team with actual current existing players is still playing games and trying to win them. After a weird — and somewhat fitting — start in which their first game was postponed, the Thunder are 1-0 after Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit a game winner against the Hornets. That’s the thing with a tanking team: There will still be some good nights, but the last few minutes, when OKC nearly blew a 13-point lead in 90 seconds, were a good illustration that there will be plenty of rough ones too– Young"

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The Ringer:

Kevin O’Connor serves up his week one power rankings with great insights (as per usual). His takes on every team are pretty much in sync with the narrator albeit there are some exceptions. To wit, he cites the same points TI is making in that this team will be fun and more competitive than analysts expected. And, that George Hill and Al Horford will draw ample interest at the trade deadline to bolster Presti’s draft closet.

O’Connor holds the Thunder in 29th but his full passage hints of optimism.

"Is OKC exceeding expectations again?Al Horford and George Hill played like two veterans who could net the Thunder a couple of future first-round picks in their opening game against the Hornets. Horford played great defense, rebounded, and made some gorgeous passes:Hill did much of the same, while also draining jumpers. It’s obviously early, but Horford and Hill clearly still have gas left in the tank. This means two things for OKC: (1) The Thunder will be more competitive than many expected ahead of this season—maybe they won’t win many games, but their veterans will have the opportunities to show they have value; and (2) Sam Presti will have teams trying to get Horford and Hill, meaning he could add to his stockpile of draft picks."

His full rankings and seeding can be viewed here.

Bleacher Report:

Writer Mo Dakhil of the Bleacher Report is among those who were impressed enough by the one OKC Thunder match to push them ahead of teams who stacked up three victories. Dakhil moves the Thunder up three positions from 27 to 24th and a portion of his excerpt is below.

"It’s hard to judge the Thunder considering their first game was postponed and they’ve only played one so far. But their one game this season was exciting. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander showed off his potential, dropping 24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds—not to mention the game-winner—against the Hornets.George Hill was great in his Thunder debut. In 24 minutes, he scored 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-4 from three. If he can play like this all season, it can pave the way for a trade at the deadline for the Thunder to net another asset."

The full article is available via this link

CBS Sports:

Colin Ward-Henniger of CBS Sports was the lone national writer to seed teams based on their actual performances in week one. As such the OKC Thunder moved up from his initial placement of dead last to 24th.

For CWH’s full power rankings placements click this link.

"The only team in the Western Conference not expected to be in the playoff race went out and won its first game against the Hornets, thanks to late heroics from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who looked more than ready to take the reins as the team’s lead playmaker. With him, George Hill and Al Horford (for now), the Thunder should be able to remain competitive in most games, even if they don’t end up winning many of them."

Sports Illustrated:

Michael Shapiro like his cohorts was impressed by the initial observations of the Thunder youngsters. He moves them from 29th up to 27th.

The following is his excerpt on the Thunder while his full rankings can be viewed here.

"Shai Gilgeous-Alexander increasingly looks like a franchise headliner as he kicks off his third season. SGA buried a game-winner to beat the Hornets in Oklahoma City’s opener, and the victory featured just exactly why there’s so much optimism regarding the Kentucky product. Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the league’s craftiest finishers. He’s a plus defender, and we should see continued growth from beyond the arc in 2020–21. The Thunder’s future will largely be determined by the success of their stash of draft picks. But using Gilgeous-Alexander as the organization’s anchor is quite the nice start."

Hoops Habit:

The Hoops Habit offering comes courtesy of Corey Rausch who moves the OKC Thunder from 30th up to 27th. The following is a portion of his excerpt on the Thunder while the full ranking list can be found here.

"With only one game played this week, they were a fun watch against fellow-bottom dweller Charlotte Hornets.They continued a similar three-guard lineup this season and George Hill, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort combined for 60 points. Gilgeous-Alexander iced the win with a jumper with less than two seconds remaining. This team is still terribly young and may not have many of these nice wins this year but getting one like that is still a fun way to kick start the rebuild."

This completes the power ranking offerings for the first week of play.

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