Heading into the break this week offers up a test for all teams including the OKC Thunder. It’s said two of the toughest games in the calendar and the last one played before the break and the first one played coming back from the break.
That’s especially true of young teams who have visions of vacations in their heads and upon returning need to immediately refocus efforts on the hardwood and not the past week.
Where National sites seed OKC Thunder in week 18 power rankings
As for the OKC Thunder, they faced the Knicks at MSG forcing overtime and collecting the victory then returned home and lost to the Pacers.
The majority of the roster will head off for some well-deserved R and R except Josh Giddey who’ll play in the Rising Stars event and also participate on All-Star Saturday night alongside fellow rookies Cade Cunningham and Scottie Barnes in the skills challenge.
That trio will face the Antetokounmpo brothers and Cavaliers triad of Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, and Darius Garland.
As for the national scribes let’s take a peek at where they placed the Thunder in the final power ranking before the break.
OKC Thunder power ranking – NBA.com:
Week 18 offers a short schedule as it featured two games prior to the All-Star break. With that John Schuhmann offered three stats for each team as noted in the excerpt below.
Schuhmann also spent time looking at the 3-point shooting of the Thunder specifically focusing on the backcourt noting the issues of the pair and suggests if anything that is what Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should focus on improving when he returns from the ankle injury.
The three stats are listed below but to view the full week 18 excerpt and Schumann’s full power rankings for the week click here.
The stats master holds the Thunder at 27th for the third week running.
"Three numbers to know…1. The Thunder have scored 8.2 fewer points per 100 possessions than the league average. That would be the eighth worst differential in the 26 seasons for which we have play-by-play data.2. 31% of their minutes, the league’s highest rate by a wide margin, have come from rookies. (Next closest is Houston at 24%.)3. The Thunder have seen the league’s biggest drop in the percentage of their opponents’ possessions that have been in transition, from 16.1% (seventh highest rate) last season to just 14.2% (third lowest rate) this season."
Week 18 is here and the panel shakes things up — nah not really, they hold the Thunder steady giving them the 27th seed yet again. Hey, at least they’re consistent.
MacMahon spends some time giving Josh Giddey some well-deserved praise in this week’s excerpt. To view the panel’s full week 18 power rankings click here.
"Josh Giddey, the No. 6 overall pick out of Australia, is recording triple-doubles at a historic rate. He just joined Oscar Robertson as the only rookies in NBA history with three consecutive triple-doubles. He has four triple-doubles this season, matching Luka Doncic for the most ever by an NBA teenager. The Thunder have been surprisingly competitive (4-6) during Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s absence with a sprained ankle, in large part due to Giddey averaging 16.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 7.5 assists in that span. — MacMahon"
Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports took time in week 18 to praise rookie Josh Giddey calling him the bright spot of this lost season.
He still dropped the Thunder one spot from 27th last week to 28th this week. The excerpt on Giddey can be viewed below and his full week 18 power rankings can be found here.
"OKC went 1-3 this week, with its only win coming against the struggling Knicks in overtime. Rookie Josh Giddey continues to become the youngest in NBA history to do everything triple-double related, collecting three straight to close out the week against the Bulls, Knicks and Spurs. Giddey also scored a career-high 28 points in his first game at MSG in the Thunder win. He’s certainly been a bright spot in another rebuilding season for Oklahoma City."
Instead of offering up a power ranking for games played in week 18, Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report ranked the teams based on their starting five.
The bad news for the Thunder is they landed on the bottom rung of Bailey’s list. The full excerpt is noted below and the rest of his lineup rankings can be found here.
"Starting Lineup: Josh Giddey, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort, Darius Bazley, and Jeremiah Robinson-EarlNet Rating: -17.6 (2nd percentile)With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander sidelined till at least mid-February and the Oklahoma City Thunder still smack-dab in the middle of their own “Process,” we may not see much of this lineup the rest of the way.Until OKC officially shuts SGA down, though, we’ll assume this is the healthy starting five.Between Josh Giddey and Gilgeous-Alexander, there’s plenty of playmaking. And though his efficiency is far from good (or even average), few could’ve predicted Luguentz Dort would average 17-plus points in his third season when the Thunder signed him as an undrafted free agent.The next goal should be adding size in the frontcourt over the next couple of years (Giddey leads the team in rebounding at 7.7 per game)."
Week 18 witnessed the OKC Thunder ranked primarily in 27th although Bleacher Report listed them 30th albeit with a different ranking system this week.
Next week is another short week as teams return from the break with OKC hosting the Suns and on the road to Indiana.