Power Rankings week 16: pundits hit OKC Thunder hard after rough week

OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) looks up a the scoreboard during the fourth quarter Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) looks up a the scoreboard during the fourth quarter Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

In week 16 the OKC Thunder split two games losing to the Atlanta Hawks and beating the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Atlanta was on a bit of a tear so while the Thunder made a fight of it versus the Hawks they came up short. It was one of their worst defensive showings which is ironic in a week where their overall defensive rating improved.

Defeating the Cavaliers will buy them some goodwill from the ranking pundits who view that young squad as a potential Conference Finalist (personally, I’m not so sure).

OKC began week 16 with a 23-24 record and finished with a 24-25 mark after winning two of their three matches.

Statistically, the Thunder jumped again on defense moving up to eighth overall, and made a massive leap up to 13th (previously 20th) on offense but fell one spot to 13th in net differential. Finally, they also moved up one rung on pace to third.

Where National sites seed OKC Thunder in week 16 power rankings

OKC Thunder power ranking – NBA.com:

It was inevitable that the OKC Thunder would drop this week with so many teams making positive leaps. The NBA stats master John Schuhmann wasn’t too hard on the team dropping them one spot from 13th to 14th.

A portion of his OKC Thunder excerpt is below, to see the full OKC segment along with Schuhmann’s full week 16 rankings click here.

"The …Thunder beat the Cavs to become the first team to match its win total from last season (24-58). They’re 13-7, ranking eighth offensively and fifth defensively, over the last 20 games, with only the Nuggets having outscored their opponents by more points per 100 possessions over those six-plus weeks. And, despite the bad game against Atlanta, the Thunder have had the league’s No. 1 bench (by a healthy margin) over that stretch.Nine of those 13 wins have come by double-digits, while the Thunder’s last three losses have come by a total of 11 points. (The Thunder remain one of four teams that have scored less than a point per possession in the clutch.) As we enter Week 16, they have the point differential (plus-1.2 per game, seventh best in the West) of a team that’s 27-22."

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.

At this point it’s a given the panel at ESPN doesn’t respect the OKC Thunder despite the elite teams they keep beating or that they are a top-10 defense.  It would probably take a 10-game winning streak and even then I’m not sure it would put them in their top ten.

Yes, that’s a bit of shade — but seriously for the pane to keep rewarding teams with multiple losing weeks means either this group has a bias toward certain teams or they simply don’t watch the Thunder. Your guess is as good as mine.

The panel drops the Thunder one spot from 18th to 19th.

"Josh Giddey, who doesn’t turn 21 until the start of next season, had six assists on Monday night against the Golden State Warriors to give him 602 assists in his career. He’s only the fourth player in NBA history to have 600 assists and 600 rebounds at age 20 or younger joining LeBron James, Luka Doncic and LaMelo Ball. — Lopez"

For the full ESPN preseason listing, click here.

Bleacher Report

For the second consecutive week Bleacher Report writer Andy Bailey dropped the OKC Thunder. This week its four ladder rungs from 17th to 21st.

As noted previously, Bailey’s week runs on a different schedule with his week including both the Warriors and first Rockets game (so two extra losses).

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

"After an unexpected surge pulled the Oklahoma City Thunder to within one win of a .500 record, they’ve sort of come back to earth a bit in recent weeks.After losing to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, OKC is now 2-4 in its past six games.Being anywhere near the play-in hunt this season still feels like gravy, though. And with Chet Holmgren and more potential lottery picks on the way in coming years, the Thunder seem to be zeroing in on a stable foundation.When Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey are on the floor without Aleksej Pokusevski, the team is plus-2.6 points per 100 possessions."

CBS Sports

To be honest, I expected the drop in ratings from Colin Ward-Henninger because he ranks the teams on what they do in each week. So no shade to CWH because he keeps it 100.

To wit, the OKC Thunder fall six spots from 10th to 16th this week — but hey let’s remember Ward-Henninger was the first to rank OKC as a top 10 team!

CWH’s full power ranking can be viewed here.

"OKC had two home games this week, losing to the Hawks before beating the Cavs. The defense, which has been strong of late, had an uncharacteristic blip in allowing 137 points to Atlanta, but it got back on track by holding Cleveland to 100 points on Friday."

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 17 the national pundits will have three games to rank with the OKC Thunder facing the Warriors plus the home-and-home set versus the Rockets.

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