OKC Thunder make impression in week 4 of national sites’ power rankings

James Harden occupied the news cycle In week four as the former OKC Thunder guard got his way and landed in Brooklyn. The Rockets in turn got more for Harden than Sam Presti got for Paul George which realistically became the benchmark for all superstar’s trade value moving forward.

While the Nets got off to an impressive start with Harden in the mix defensively there are questions. That could lead to a trade to shore up the frontcourt as my co-site expert Mark Nilon suggests the Thunder could potentially help Brooklyn with.

The pandemic was a major factor in week four of NBA action as many teams had to cancel games. Other teams trotted out players who had seen little to no action prior but due to so many stars and reserves being sidelined with contact tracing they had no choice in order to meet the league minimum of eight dressed players.

To that end, the Thunder got hit by their second postponement as the 76ers couldn’t meet the requirement between the players out quarantining while Joel Embiid and others were lost due to injury. That means OKC has two additional games (Rockets, 76ers) to add to their second half schedule.

 OKC Thunder news finds the team shooting up national power rankings ladders

It’s taken a few weeks for some of the main sites to credit the Thunder for their competitiveness as many assumed this squad would simply click the tanking switch. But as the Thunder continue to win in spite of all those draft picks waiting to be conveyed the experts are gaining respect for their effort and ranking them accordingly.

As such the national sites OKC Thunder power rankings in week four range from a low of 25th to a high of 15th. As TI noted last week the scribes use differently parameters for ranking with some placing greater emphasis on the week that was versus others promoting teams they believe will be in the upper echelon in May.

Thunderous Intentions compiled these national sites’ power rankings including excerpts on the OKC Thunder.

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

NBA.com – John Schuhmann:

The OKC Thunder held their 20th rating on Schuhmann’s ladder this week with the team continuing to feast on the road and getting that OT victory over the Bulls.

Last week the statsmaster pole vaulted the Thunder up eight rungs so the fact he held them steady at 20th should be considered as a positive.

The following is a portion of his excerpt on OKC:

With (mostly) empty arenas, home teams are just 93-96 this season. The Thunder, who generally have one of the loudest buildings in the league, encapsulate the funkiness of the situation, with the league’s second-best road record (5-1) and (along with the Wizards) its worst home record (1-5). That latter mark was well on its way toward 0-6 on Friday, when the Thunder trailed the Bulls by as many as 22 points and by 16 with less than five minutes left. But they scored 19 points on their final 10 possessions of regulation (with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander providing the game-tying heroics) to send the game to overtime, where Mike Muscala drained two 3-pointerss (off nearly identical pick-and-pop actions with Gilgeous-Alexander) to cap a wild win.

For the rest of Schuhmann’s Thunder comments and the rest of his power rankings click here.

ESPN Poll:

It took a few weeks for the ESPN panel to catch up with their peers regarding where the OKC Thunder should rank based on their performance and record.

It’s likely the panel were voting expecting the Thunder to fall off and go on a massive losing streak (which still might be in the cards). However, in week four the panel moves the Thunder from a the previous ranking of 24th up to 16th which means on a whole they see this team as a playoff squad to this point in the season.

As Royce Young points out the statistics don’t scream .500 ball but that’s precisely what the Thunder have amassed through 12 games this season .

The full listing can be found  here.

If you were looking at a team ranked 29th in offense, 18th in defense and 28th in net rating, you wouldn’t think it was playing .500 basketball, right? But that’s what the Thunder are, getting back to 6-6 after their 22-point comeback against the Bulls on Friday. OKC has found a way to win a number of close games, with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander shining in them. Against Chicago, he finished with a career-high 33 points and 10 assists and made a flurry of big plays in the fourth quarter. — Young

Bleacher Report:

Mo Dakhil of Bleacher Report rankings offered several – wait – WHAT? moments this week as he positioned some teams well up the ladder despite a week of where certain teams lost every game.

Intentions won’t grapple too much since he moved the OKC Thunder up three spots to 19th (although TI could make a case even that rating was too low considering some of the teams ranked ahead had far worse performances in week four).

A portion of Dakhil’s excerpt can be found below.

The Thunder are off to a surprising start with a 6-6 record. The development of their young talent is continuing to get them wins.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is growing into the franchise star everyone thought he was capable of becoming. In their overtime win against the Bulls, he had a career-high 33 points as well as 10 assists and five rebounds while committing just one turnover.

The full article is available via this link

CBS Sports:

Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports held the OKC Thunder steady in 15th this week citing the comeback versus the Bulls. CWH was most impressed with Gilgeous-Alexander and the dramatic way the team came back to win that match.

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

The Thunder’s lone win this week was of the comeback variety, erasing a 10-point deficit with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to set themselves up for the overtime victory behind a career-high 33 points from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Lu Dort had a great week shooting the ball, going 10 for 23 from 3-point range before Sunday’s game against the 76ers was postponed.

Sports Illustrated:

Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated – The Crossover continues to be impressed with the OKC Thunder taking this week to highlight how well Luguentz Dort is playing.

Last week he placed them 25th on his power rankings chart and this week he slides them up one spot to 24th.

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

Luguentz Dort briefly emerged on the national stage in the NBA bubble as he hounded Harden throughout the first round of the playoffs, and the Arizona State product continues to shine in his second season. Dort’s three-point percentage has jumped to 43.1 percent in 2020–21 on a considerable leap in attempts, and he remains one of the most gifted defensive wings in the game. The Thunder will likely fade from the playoff picture at some point, but this isn’t the bottom feeder that many expected entering the season. Even after Chris Paul’s departure, Oklahoma City continues to exceed expectations.

Hoops Habit:

Corey Rausch of our sister site Hoops Habit is starting to buy the OKC Thunder hype stating what most pundits are thinking (OKC is supposed to be tanking — not winning).

n’t necessarily buying the hype around the OKC Thunder this week. Although writer Corey Rausch moved the Thunder up four spots last week he held them steady in 23rd after their impressive 3-1 record (all on the road) in week three.

The following is a portion of his excerpt on the Thunder while the full ranking list can be found here.

Someone needs to tell the players on the Oklahoma City Thunder that they are supposed to be tanking for Cade Cunningham. Because up until this point, they are one of the most enjoyable hodgepodges of young players that are winning as many games as they are losing. – – –

The Thunder are facing a tough slate of games this week, going up against two MVP candidates and the LA Clippers. The record may start to slide but do not count the young kids from Oklahoma City out. They come to compete every night.

This completes the power ranking offerings for the fourth week of NBA games.

What do you think of where the national witers ranked the OKC Thunder this week? Let us know in the comments section.