OKC Thunder rebound in week 21 NBA Power Rankings

OKC Thunder guard Aaron Wiggins (21) fight for a loose ball during the second half at Paycom Center. Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
OKC Thunder guard Aaron Wiggins (21) fight for a loose ball during the second half at Paycom Center. Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

For Week 21 of the NBA Power Rankings, once again, the OKC Thunder had a rough go to start the week, losing to the Kings for the second consecutive game and then to the Lakers. They got back on track by week’s end, posting two wins versus the Jazz.

OKC began the week with a 28-32 record and finished with a 30-34 record.

Statistically, the Thunder remained close to their previous ranks of third on pace, 12th offensively, 11th defensively, and 10th in net differential.

Where National sites seed OKC Thunder in week 21 power rankings

OKC Thunder power ranking – NBA.com:

After a rough run of losses and dropping the Thunder to 21st, the stat master John Schuhmann raised the team one spot to 20th. It’s a fair assessment given the split this week of wins and losses.

A portion of his OKC Thunder excerpt is below, to see the full OKC segment along with Schuhmann’s full week 21 rankings click here.

"The Thunder lost the first four of those games because their defense was bad. But they picked up an SGA-less win over the Jazz on Friday when they committed 19 fewer turnovers than their opponent. Gilgeous-Alexander returned two nights later and scored 38 points as the Thunder completed a sweep of the two-game series and drew even with the 10th-place Jazz in the loss column. They’re one of two teams — the Raptors are the other — that rank in the top five in both turnover rate (fourth) and opponent turnover rate (second), and they’ve committed fewer turnovers in 50 of their 64 games, including 25 of their last 28."

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.

The love for the OKC Thunder is absent within the ESPN voting group which continually cites the special play of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, and Jalen Williams but continues to keep them mired in the basement in their rankings.

Case in point, despite most of the other national writers crediting them for a strong week the panel held them steady in 23rd. I could go into a long diatribe about other teams ranked higher and the reasons why they shouldn’t be positioned above the Thunder but at this point let’s just assume many of the voters on the panel don’t watch much Thunder basketball.

To wit, the Thunder is held in 23rd on their rankings this week.

Click here for the full listings.

"Not to be outdone by a 38-point performance from the returning Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder rookie Jalen Williams had a career-best 32 points in Sunday night’s win over Utah. It was the latest in a stretch of great play from Williams, who scored 20 points on 50% shooting for the fourth consecutive game. That’s tops among all rookies this season. Since the All-Star break, Williams is averaging 21.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game while shooting 58.8% overall and 50.0% from 3. — Lopez"

Bleacher Report

While Andy Bailey hinted last week that the conservative approach to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s injuries was tied to tanking  — this week he straight up calls out OKC for purposely tanking.

Bailey even included a tweet calling out the Thunder not playing SGA. I get it – people are suspicious but let me remind you of two summers ago when Shai wasn’t managed as he dealt with plantar fasciitis that became a major issue.

The injury was bad enough for him to miss playing for the Canadian National Team. And – that was something he wanted to do so clearly there was no need for him to be “managed” in the offseason to sell a tanking narrative.

It will be very interesting to see if he backtracks next week now that they’ve won some games and pulled back ahead of the Lakers and Pelicans this past week putting them in the play-in.

Anyway, Bailey ranks the Thunder 22nd this week one spot higher than the week prior.

His excerpt is below and the full listings can be read here.

"It’s hard to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder without a hint of suspicion that they’re angling to hang onto their own lottery pick.Shai Gilgeous-Alexander played in the All-Star Game and OKC’s first contest afterward (when he had 39 points), then he sat for five games.Of course, an abdominal injury and the league’s health and safety protocols were certainly legitimate reasons for the absence, but then he combined for 71 points in back-to-back wins this week and followed that up with an “injury management” absence.The Thunder lost by 31 points to the Kevin Durant-less Phoenix Suns in SGA’s most recent absence, and their seasonlong minus-2.5 net rating without their leading scorer probably means they can stay out of the play-in tournament if they continue to manage his injuries like this."

CBS Sports

A week after writer Colin Ward-Henninger dropped the OKC Thunder NINE spots to 27th he credits them for a better week raising them back up five spots to 22nd.

CWH’s full power ranking can be viewed here.

"OKC lost to the Kings and Lakers to start the week, then put on an offensive clinic in consecutive home wins over the Jazz. The good news is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander returned to the lineup on Sunday, and his absence gave extra opportunity to rookie Jalen Williams, who put up 25.8 points, six assists and five rebounds per game on 62/60/78 shooting splits this week."

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)…

Power Rankings for week 22 will review the four-game slate of games featuring games versus the Warriors, Suns, Pelicans, and Spurs.

Next. Jaylin Williams is making an impact as a rookie. dark