Power Rankings week 15: OKC Thunder break into top 10

OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) looks to drive on Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27t: John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports
OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) looks to drive on Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27t: John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports /

In week 15 the OKC Thunder witnessed another rise up the ladder based on their continued success.

The young squad keeps delivering winning weeks and virtually made it impossible to keep ignoring them.

Indy is reeling without Tyrese Haliburton so that win was sort of expected whereas the Kings were one of the hottest teams and the Thunder pushed that match to clutch time.

What gained them respect from the national sites was defeating the Nuggets in Denver.

OKC began week 15 with a 21-23 record and finished with a 23-24 mark after winning two of their three matches.

Statistically, the Thunder made a bit of a shift improving to ninth defensively, dropping slightly on offense to 20th, climbing two spots to 12 in net differential, and maintaining a high position in pace ranking fourth.

Where National sites seed OKC Thunder in week 15 power rankings

OKC Thunder power ranking – NBA.com:

Another week of NBA stats master John Schuhmann lifting the OKC Thunder up his rankings. This time they jump another three spots from 16th to 13th.

A portion of his OKC Thunder excerpt is below, to see the full OKC segment along with Schuhmann’s full week 15 rankings click here.

"The Thunder had their first chance (since they were 4-5) to get back to .500 in Sacramento on Friday, but couldn’t hold onto a seven-point, halftime lead, scoring just 47 points on 47 second-half possessions against the league’s 25th-ranked defense. But they’ll have another chance to hit .500 this week because they ended the Nuggets’ 16-game, home winning streak on Sunday, edging the Nuggets (who were without Nikola Jokic) on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s bank shot with 9.2 seconds left."

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.

Ummm – so the OKC Thunder beat the Nuggets and had a third consecutive week where they won more than they lost but the panel held them steady at 18th.

Once again, they put teams ahead of OKC who had 1-3 weeks (Cavaliers) so I’m eager to read the writeup next week if the panel again elects to hold the Thunder under teams they’ve beat!  As the excerpt shows – the panel recognizes what is going on they just aren’t inclined to reward them for it (at least not yet).

"Oklahoma City has won seven of its past nine games and has taken itself out of the Victor Wembanyama conversation. Instead, the Thunder firmly placed themselves in the conversation for the play-in tournament. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit the go-ahead shot with 9.1 seconds remaining on Sunday to lift OKC over the Nuggets, snapping Denver’s 16-game home win streak. Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 34 points for his 27th 30-point game of the season, trailing only Luka Doncic for the year. — Lopez"

For the full ESPN preseason listing, click here.

Bleacher Report

While Andy Bailey dropped the OKC Thunder from 14th to 17th it’s partially due to when his week runs. Unlike all the other contributors his week fell 1-2 because of when he starts and stops and clearly his week included Sacramento, Denver, and Atlanta.

This means he’ll likely be raising them back up next week, but more importantly, Bailey was yet another scribe who felt Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should be starting in the All-Star Game.

Bailey’s Thunder excerpt follows and can be viewed in its entirety along with the rest of his rankings by clicking here.

"Just when it looked like the Oklahoma City Thunder were ready to make a real push for a top-six spot in the West, they had a 1-2 week that reminded us that they’re the second-youngest team in the NBA.Still, at plus-8.5, OKC is second in the West in January net rating, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (who should probably have been named an All-Star starter) remains one of the league’s most consistent No. 1 options.After scoring at least 34 in each of his games this week, SGA has 28 30-point performances this season. Only Luka Dončić (33) has more."

CBS Sports

We’re finally back on track with Colin Ward-Henninger who didn’t have offerings early in the New Year and last week didn’t post until the 23rd. But since his week is slightly different than NBA or ESPN this works to align them more closely.

Ward-Henninger is the first to rank the OKC Thunder in his top 10  (up four spots)- so that’s something to cheer about.

CWH’s full power ranking can be viewed here.

"The Thunder are for real, and they continued to announce their presence with authority in a 4-1 week, punctuated by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s game-winning basket with nine seconds left in Denver on Sunday. The most positive development from this week is that OKC, which has been winning games with its offense most of the season, allowed just 108 points per 100 possessions in the five games."

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…

Up next…

Week 16 the national pundits will have just two games to rank as the OKC Thunder faced only the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Thunder and parity pack schedule leading into trade deadline. dark. Next