Power Rankings week 10: OKC Thunder rediscover defensive chops

OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Luguentz Dort (5) Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Luguentz Dort (5) Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

Another tough week for the OKC Thunder who recorded a 1-3 mark.

They finished their road trip suffering a loss in Dallas then returned home to host three matches, losing to the Heat and Wolves but salvaged the week with a win versus the Grizzlies.

Their record at the end of the week was 12-18.

Notably, the once potent offense of the OKC Thunder continues to regress as their offensive rating dropped to 24th.

In contrast, their defense regained some luster with the new rating of 12th (a  jump of five spots in one week!).  Their net differential rating holds steady at 23rd and they run the fourth-fastest pace.

Where National sites seed OKC Thunder in week 10 power rankings

OKC Thunder power ranking – NBA.com:

The stats master John Schuhmann dives into the interesting shift of the OKC Thunder production that has witnessed the offense surge then regress and vice versa for the defense.

His excerpt outlines that fact and focuses on the one outlier in the week as they beat the Grizzlies missing two members of the core.

Schuhmann drops the Thunder one spot 24th.  A portion of his OKC Thunder excerpt is below, to see the full OKC segment along with Schuhmann’s full week 10 rankings click here.

"On Saturday against Memphis, the Thunder had neither Gilgeous-Alexander nor Giddey, and Williams shot 0-for-8. But they won anyway, making a season-high 19 3-pointers, with seven different guys draining at least two. Lu Dort and Isaiah Joe (the starting guards) combined for 47 points and the Thunder also got good minutes from their bench, using their usual 11-man rotation despite the absences. They benefited from Ja Morant being ejected just before halftime, but the Thunder were already up 21 at that point. It was their first win (they were previously 0-3 – one of two winless teams) in the second game of a back-to-back and one of their best defensive games of the season, making them a better-than-average defensive team through Week 9."

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. The panel this season is comprised of Kendra Andrews, Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, and Kevin Pelton.

Although the OKC collected just a single victory in their four matches the panel moved them up two spots from 25th to 23rd. 

"Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit a baseline jumper at the buzzer to defeat the Trail Blazers on Monday night. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, it was Gilgeous-Alexander’s third go-ahead field goal in the final two seconds of the fourth quarter/overtime this season. The only player with more in a single season over the past 25 years is Kobe Bryant, who had four such shots during the 2009-10 season. — Lopez"

For the full ESPN preseason listing, click here.

Bleacher Report

Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report provides his Christmas power rankings and moves the OKC Thunder up two spots to 22nd.

A bit surprising Bailey ranked OKC behind a few other teams who didn’t have the quality of wins the Thunder did. Of note, his schedule doesn’t run Monday to Sunday. Rather his week runs from  Friday through Thursday.

That means his Thunder week includes the loss to the Wolves and wins versus the Grizzlies and Blazers (x2) whereas the other power rankings won’t address the Blazers until next week.

Bailey’s Thunder excerpt follows and you can view the entire article by clicking here.

"With back-to-back wins over the Portland Trail Blazers to close the week, the Oklahoma City Thunder have moved to within two games of the play-in tournament.And with how good Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been this season, the front office may have a decision to make pretty soon.SGA is averaging 31.2 points and 5.7 assists. When he’s on the floor, OKC has a point differential around that of a 40-win team. If he and the team keep this up, there’s a chance they miss out on the lottery and a chance to add Victor Wembanyama to this group.When Gilgeous-Alexander is off the floor, that point differential drops to around that of a 23-win. That raises the obvious question: Do the Thunder have to find some way to shut Gilgeous-Alexander down?Exceeding expectations is fun, but the idea of an SGA-Wembanyama two-man game might be even better."

CBS Sports

In week ten the OKC Thunder got a MAJOR boost from CBS writer Colin Ward-Heninger who vaulted them six spots from 27th up to 21st.

Like Bailey of BR, his week also runs Friday to Thursday so it includes the two Blazers games in the mix whereas Schuhmann and the ESPN panel won’t be addressing those wins until next week.

To view his entire week five power rankings, click here.

"In a great week, OKC beat the Grizzlies and the Blazers twice, with their only loss coming by two points to the Wolves. Once again the Shai Gilgeous-Alexander show was in full effect, as he put up 32.3 points per game this week on 44 percent 3-point shooting. But the Thunder also managed to beat the Grizzlies without him, with Lu Dort scoring 24 points and sharpshooter Isaiah Joe pouring in 23 on 5 for 8 from beyond the arc. SGA proved his worth, however, by hitting the game-winner as time expired in the first Portland win, then making two clutch free throws late in the second."

Weekly Power Rankings:

For those that want to see how the OKC Thunder have progressed this season or to look back at a specific week, the following offers the links breaking down where the OKC Thunder ranked each week…

Week one: click here 

Week two: click here

Week three: click here

Week four: click here

Week five: click here

Week six: click here

Week seven: click here

Week eight: click here

Week nine: click here 

Up next…

Week 11 will feature another baseball set with the Portland Trail Blazers in town and the OKC Thunder will complete the week with the Pelicans in town to play prior to everyone heading home for Christmas.

Next. Lillard offers sage advice to Gigeous-Alexander. dark