Power Rankings: OKC Thunder commits to defense in week 4

Luguentz Dort #5 and Mike Muscala #33 of the OKC Thunder (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Luguentz Dort #5 and Mike Muscala #33 of the OKC Thunder (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Week 4 of the NBA power rankings find the OKC Thunder sliding down most of the boards after rising up them last week.

That’s likely to be how the team will be viewed for the majority of the season unless they suddenly shift into full-on tank mode.

Their record is 4-5 now as they join the myriad of teams in the .500 range. They rank 25th offensively, seventh defensively, 19th for net differential, and sixth for pace.

Where National sites seed OKC Thunder in week 4 power rankings

OKC Thunder power ranking – NBA.com:

While the NBA leans into small ball lineups, leave it to the statsmaster John Schuhmann to come up with the best description of the Thunder.

He cites how the positioning of the team is different because the guards are bigger than average (Giddey/SGA) while the frontcourt is smaller than average.

Mind you, that’s partially true because there’s a 7′ guy sitting on the bench healing and a 7’3 guy who might land here if the balls bounce right this summer.   Anyway, it was a great read on the makeup of the team and while they aren’t the 6’8/6’9″ roster like the Raptors or 7′ front court of the Magic it makes logical sense particularly on defense that the Thunder are constructed this way for a reason — to enhance the defense.

Schuhmann ranks the team 22nd this week – a drop of four spots from last week.

A portion of Schuhmann’s OKC Thunder excerpt is below and you can view the rest plus his full rankings here.

"The Thunder roster is seemingly built to switch — their guards are pretty big and their bigs are pretty small. But they rank 23rd in the percentage of ball-screens (19%) that they’ve switched, according to Second Spectrum tracking. You’d expect the team that leads the league in opponent turnover rate (by a wide margin) to be blitzing a lot, but they’re not doing that, either. What they do have is a bunch of handsy guys with length (and strong hands too), and they also lead the league with 1.4 charges drawn per game.Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — 30.5 points on a true shooting percentage of 62.5% (seventh among 16 players averaging 25-plus) — has kept the offense from ranking 30th for a third straight season. He’s averaged 31.2 over his last four games without making a 3-pointer (he’s only attempted six)…"

ESPN Panel:

Every year ESPN comprises a panel of writers who offer up the excerpts on the teams and vote on where the teams rank weekly. It will be Kendra Andrews, Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, and Kevin Pelton this season.

The panel held the OKC Thunder steady in 24th place in week four with Andrew Lopex offering up the excerpt.

"Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is having a career year on the offensive end as he averages 30.8 points on 53.9% shooting — as well as hitting 62 of 64 free throws. He is also getting it done on the defensive end, averaging 2.1 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. His 32 combined “stocks” are tied with Anthony Davis for fourth-most in the league among all players, and Gilgeous-Alexander and Davis are the only two players ranked in the top 20 in both steals and blocks per game.— Lopez"

For the full ESPN preseason listing, click here.

CBS Sports

As I’ve noted prior, CBS writer, Colin Ward-Henniger is one of the few national writers who assesses teams on their specific play by each week.

That results in major fluctuations on his board but it’s a great way to decipher how each team is truly performing. Unfortunately for the OKC Thunder in week five that meant they fell seven spots from CWH’s previous high rank for them of 18th to 25th.

His full week two power rankings can be viewed here.

"OKC missed opportunities for wins against the Pistons and depleted Bucks this week, settling for an 0-3 record. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was nearly the hero in Wednesday night’s loss to the Bucks, but his go-ahead 3-pointer with less than a second left was followed by Brook Lopez getting fouled on a lob play, which led to overtime. The Thunder guard continues his stellar season, putting up 30 points and four assists per game this week on 52 percent shooting."

The upcoming week has four matches with the OKC Thunder bookending the week on the road starting in Detroit versus the Pistons then returning home to host the Bucks and Raptors then finishing the week at Madison Square Gardens facing the Knicks.

Next. Power Rankings week 3. dark