OKC Thunder – Creativity abounds in week 19 Power Rankings

OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) runs down the court against the Houston Rockets OKC won 133-96: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) runs down the court against the Houston Rockets OKC won 133-96: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

Week 19 of the NBA schedule marked a short week with the lead-up to the All-Star Break. Like most clubs the  OKC Thunder had just two games on the schedule and delivered a split with a loss to the Pelicans and yet another win versus the Rockets.

OKC began the week with a 27-28 record and finished with a 28-29 record.

Statistically, the Thunder maintain their third ranking in pace while witnessing a one rung drop offensively (13th), rose one rung in defensive rating (11th), and two spots for net differential (11th).

The latter is the real matrix I use for how the team is doing because it’s the best measurement for how the team is faring cumulatively so that ranking is perhaps the most impressive statistic of this roster still in a rebuilding phase.

Where National sites seed OKC Thunder in week 19 power rankings

OKC Thunder power ranking – NBA.com:

With the split of 1-1 from the pre-All-Star week there wasn’t much ammunition to create a drastic rise or drop for that matter.

As such, it’s not surprising John Schuhmann held the Thunder steady in 18th.

A portion of his OKC Thunder excerpt is below, to see the full OKC segment along with Schuhmann’s full week 19 rankings click here.

"The Thunder went into the break with a three-point loss and a 37-point win. So they come out of the break at 28-29, with the point differential (plus-1.6 per game, fourth best in the West) of a team that’s 32-25. They’re 13-20 in games that were within five points in the last five minutes and 15-9 otherwise.Point differential doesn’t matter when it comes to playoff and Play-In seeding, but the Thunder did have the West’s second-best record (17-11) over the two months leading into the break. And they’re one of two teams (league-wide) – the Nuggets were the other – that ranked in the top 10 on both ends of the floor over that stretch. They’ve had No. 1 offense (by a healthy margin) in February, with the context being that three of their seven February games have been against Houston.Though they don’t get to play the Rockets again, the Thunder have one of the league’s easiest remaining schedules in regard to opponent strength. But they’re one of four teams with 25 games left to play and one of three with no rest-advantage games over the final seven weeks. Two of their five remaining rest-disadvantage games are in Phoenix, with the first of those on Friday."

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.

Heading into the All-Star Break the panel ranked the OKC Thunder 18th but elected NOT to post a week 19 ranking. Presumably, they’ll group together the pre-break and post-break weeks (19/20) in the coming week.

No power rankings this week

Bleacher Report

As I’ve noted previously in this space Bleacher Report writer Andy Bailey uses a different schedule that runs up to the weekend. So, it wasn’t surprising there wasn’t a typical submission for week 19.

Instead, what Bailey offers for this past week is a power ranking of the most used lineups by every team. Bailey notes in some cases he’s having to be subjective and predictive given the numerous roster changes.

I was anxious to see how the Bleacher Report writer would handle the OKC Thunder not because they made massive deadline moves but because of how many variations of starting rotations Mark Daigneault has utilized.

As it turns out, Bailey elected to go with a relatively new starting five that includes the core three of SGA, Giddey, and Dort along with the two Jay’s.

BR ranked OKC 19th last week and Bailey’s special lineup post jumps them two spots to 17th.  One thing I expected was a nod to the impending Chet Holmgren return but I guess he’s holding out until next season to offer that addition.

Bailey’s Thunder excerpt follows and the full article can be viewed by clicking here.

"Josh Giddey, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams, Luguentz Dort and Jaylin WilliamsFew teams in the league can deploy the combination of size and playmaking that the Oklahoma City Thunder can, and they’ve really leaned into that since inserting rookie Jalen Williams into the starting five.We already know and talk plenty about 6’6″ Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (30.8 points and 5.7 assists) and 6’8″ Josh Giddey (16.3 points and 5.9 assists), but Williams has some similar traits. He’s 6’6″ and averaging 2.9 dimes in his first year in the league.Adding stout defense from Luguentz Dort and plenty of hustle from another rookie, Jaylin Williams, makes sense, but these five still have a minus-4.4 net rating, which is probably a reminder of how hard it is for youth to win in the NBA."

CBS Sports

Writer Colin Ward-Henninger typically is the one writer who ranks each week in isolation. However, for week 19 he’s elected a more retrospective examination of the season to this point.

This week CWH ranks the OKC Thunder 16th a two-rung jump over last week’s 18th rank.

CWH’s full power ranking can be viewed here.

"Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has officially made the leap to superstar status, helping to propel OKC into a legitimate playoff contender. Josh Giddey and rookie Jalen Williams have turned in excellent campaigns and look like true building blocks around SGA. The Thunder are 13th in offense and 11th in defense, giving them a top-10 net rating in the league. They should probably have a better record, but they’ve struggled in clutch games this season at 13-20"

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 the past five weeks (those wanting to view prior weeks need only open one of the post links below)…

Up next…

Power Rankings for week 19 examine the OKC Thunder games from a week with just two games but offer plenty of introspective thinking regarding their past month’s performance.

In week 20 pundits will be reviewing the two road games in Utah and Phoenix with the final game from today (Sunday) versus the Kings at the Paycom Center.

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