TI Notebook: Where OKC Thunder sit post Christmas

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images) /

The Oklahoma City Thunder are in the midst of a three-day break having last played on Friday, December 23rd, and will not play again until Tuesday night in the Paycom Center. The Christmas Holiday is behind us, and this is when casual NBA fans mark the start of the season, and when organizations start to evaluate where they fall in the NBA landscape. So, where do the OKC Thunder sit?

This past week, the Thunder walked away with a 2-1 record, sweeping the Portland Trail Blazers in a baseball-style series and falling to the New Orleans Pelicans in overtime despite Shai Gilgeous-Alexander recording a career-high 44 points.

Where do the Oklahoma City Thunder sit post-Christmas, and what is on deck for the OKC Thunder this week?

The Oklahoma City Thunder saw Shai Gilgeous-Alexander nail buzzer beater against the Portland Trail Blazers to put a damper on a historic night in which Damian Lillard became the all-time leading scorer for the Blazers, then drop a career-high 44 points against the Pelicans after being stuck on his previous mark of 42 for three games.

After a 2-1 week, the OKC Thunder sit at 14-19 with a 4-6 record in their last ten games and just two games back of the NBA Western Conference Play-in tournament with an easy schedule on the way. According to Tankathon’s strength of schedule, the Thunder rank 23rd in the NBA with 49 games left.

The OKC Thunder are going to have a hard time figuring out who they are, at least for now. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has played at a superstar level, but the question becomes “Which team are they?”

Throughout this season, so far this season, the Thunder have gone on five losing streaks. Two of them were three-game streaks, one was four games, and another was five. So far, the team only has seen one stretch where they went on a one-game losing streak or a one-game winning streak.

On the flip side, the team has rattled off four straight wins once, three straight wins twice, and two one-off wins sandwiched between losing streaks.

Those two extremes come with obvious highs and obvious lows. There are stretches where this young team which is lacking their 2nd overall pick from the 2022 NBA Draft is already poised for a play-in run, and there are stretches where this team looks a piece away and should pivot to focus more on their NBA Draft position.

With the way Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is playing, Mark Daigneault has this team with obvious disadvantages ranking as a top-ten defense, their easy remaining schedule, the young talent depth, and another week that should end with a 2-1 record at worst if all those according to plan, the possibility of a play-in run is becoming real.

While I still would not project that to happen, it is getting harder and harder to flippantly ignore or push to the side as a non-starter.

If you had to predict right now, would you have the Thunder sneaking into the play-in tournament?

This week at Thunderous Intentions: 

This week’s matchups: vs Spurs, @ Hornets, vs 76ers

Record Prediction this week: 2-1

Song of the week: What’s up (what’s going on?), Four Non-Blondes

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander earns player of the week nomination, but did he deserve to win?. dark. Next