Power Rankings week 18: pundits unanimous in OKC Thunder rank post deadline

Lakers LeBron James scores on a jumper behind Kenrich Williams #34 and Josh Giddey #3 of the OKC Thunder to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA's all-time leading scorer (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Lakers LeBron James scores on a jumper behind Kenrich Williams #34 and Josh Giddey #3 of the OKC Thunder to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA's all-time leading scorer (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

In week 18 the pundits witnessed the  OKC Thunder deliver a better effort finishing with two victories (Lakers, Rockets) and a single loss to the Warriors.

Despite the Warriors being shorthanded without their star Stephen Curry they maintained the ability to drop copious buckets on the Thunder.

Overall though, it was still an impressive week given how many eyes were on the Lakers as LeBron James created a “where were you when” moment. In the prior nationally televised game Mark Daigneault noted how the OKC Thunder youngsters were impacted by the extra attention so was eager to see how they fared with this game having even more attention on it.

Not only did the young Thunder show they’re quick learners they took it to the Lakers in clutch time coming away with the victory.

OKC began week 18 with a 25-27 record and finished with a 27-28 record.

Statistically, the OKC Thunder held somewhat steady although they’ve experienced a minor drop on both sides of the hardwood in recent weeks. Overall they rank 12th offensively, 13th defensively, 12th in Net Rating, and third in pace.

Where National sites seed OKC Thunder in week 18 power rankings

OKC Thunder power ranking – NBA.com:

Just as the team inevitably dropped last week it was equally likely they would take a jump this week. After all, they went 2-1 and low-key put a bit of tarnish on LeBron James’ historic night by capturing the win.

NBA stats master John Schuhmann who dropped the OKC Thunder five spots last week raises them a spot this week from 19th to 18th. 

A portion of his OKC Thunder excerpt is below, to see the full OKC segment along with Schuhmann’s full week 18 rankings click here.

"Mike Muscala ranked 10th on the Thunder in total minutes (622) at the deadline, but his minutes were usually valuable. Over the last four seasons, the Thunder outscored their opponents by 6.9 points per 100 possessions in 1,359 total minutes with Muscala and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on the floor together, and that mark was a plus-12.9 per 100 in 497 minutes this season.The Thunder had seven wins this season in which they were outscored in Muscala’s minutes off the floor, and dealing him for more Draft picks at the deadline could certainly hurt them in the standings going forward. Muscala had a cheap team option for next season, so keeping him wouldn’t have been particularly costly."

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.

Perhaps small wonders do exist as the Panel finally gave the OKC Thunder a bit of a jolt up the rankings list. Granted they still placed several teams with equal or close records ahead of them, but hey at least they move up.

Specifically, they jump from 21st three spots to 18th.

"Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 44 points against Portland on Friday night and needed only 16 shots to do so. Gilgeous-Alexander converted 13 of 16 from the field and 18 of 19 from the line. He became the first Thunder player to have 40 points on 80% shooting and joined Nikola Jokic, Antetokounmpo and Booker as the only players to accomplish it this season. Also, he’s the first guard to have a 40-point game on 80% shooting without a 3-pointer since Michael Jordan did so on Nov. 16, 1988. — Lopez"

For the full ESPN preseason listing, click here.

Bleacher Report

Writer Andy Bailey is fair in his rankings and has consistently rewarded the OKC Thunder for their performance. Despite the Lakers’ improvement following trades Bailey didn’t fall prey to raising them higher than OKC as he bumps the Thunder up one spot to 19th (from 20th).

Bailey offers kudos to the young Thunder for exceeding expectations and specifically cites Shai Gilgeous-Alexander offering some intriguing under-the-radar stats.

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

"The Oklahoma City Thunder absolutely smashed pre-All-Star expectations.Their preseason over/under was set at 23.5 wins. They cleared that mark in January, and their leading scorer, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, would almost certainly be All-NBA if the season ended today.You likely know about his 30.8 points per game, but what may come as a bit of a surprise is how he gets them.SGA leads the league in points per game out of drives and has a two-point cushion over Ja Morant. His 16.9 driving points would rank 61st on the NBA’s points-per-game leaderboard by themselves."

CBS Sports

Similarly to Schuhmann, CBS Sports writer Colin Ward-Henninger credited the OKC Thunder for a bounce-back week raising them SIX spots from 24th to 18th this week. 

Ward-Henninger gives kudos to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s efficiency in the impressive victory versus the Blazers.

CWH’s full power ranking can be viewed here.

"OKC suffered a bad blowout loss to the Warriors without Steph Curry, but shook that off to spoil LeBron’s record-setting night before taking over down the stretch in a gutty win in Portland. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander tied a career high with 44 points against the Blazers on 13-for-16 shooting. Sheesh."

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…

Power Rankings for week 18 will examine the OKC Thunder games from a week where they sort of spoiled LeBron’s big night and rallied to beat the Blazers with the lone loss versus the Warriors.

All three games were played on the road. As for the post-trade deadline week, the Thunder have just two matches both at home versus the Pelicans and (yes you’re reading this right) the Rockets.

That will lead the team into the All-Star Break where Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Josh Giddey and Jalen Williams will be busy but everyone else will get some R&R.

Next. A cautionary tale for the OKC Thunder and developing teams. dark