With the Miami Heat’s win streak currently dominating NBA news across the nation, the Oklahoma City Thunder find themselves flying under the radar during one of their best regular seasons in franchise history. The Thunder have already amassed 53 wins this season with 10 games still to be played. Oh yeah, and their margin of victory this season is a league-high 9.2.
The Thunder are on track to record the highest average margin of victory since the 2007-08 Boston Celtics. The Celtics went on to become NBA champions that year.
Royce Young of dailythunder.com noted on the Thunder’s dominance this season. He also put things into perspective for what this feat could entail for the Thunder.
The team that leads the league in margin of victory has won 15 of the last 30 NBA titles. But check this: Only six teams in the shot-clock era have been more dominant than the Thunder in terms of margin of victory — the 1996 Bulls (+12.2), the 1997 Bulls (+10.8), the 1992 Bulls (+10.4), the 2008 Celtics (+10.3), the 1986 Celtics (+9.4) and the 1987 Lakers (+9.3).
And guess what: All six of those teams won NBA titles.
The Thunder’s dominance this season has surprised many due to the James Harden trade just a week before the start of the season. Instead of taking a step back which many believed would happen, the Thunder took a step forward both offensively and defensively.
Last year, the Thunder averaged 107.1 points per 100 possessions; this year, they average 110. The only playoff team that has improved more since last year in that statistic is the Los Angeles Clippers. Defensively, the Thunder have taken off a little more than a point per 100 possessions compared to last year.
With all of that said, it still does not change the fact that the Thunder are just 3-9 against the league’s top teams. The Thunder seem to take care of business against lower-caliber teams, but when they play the league’s best, they either blow them out or come up just short.
It is very confusing that the Thunder can have such a dominating year statistically, yet they have not won very many series against the league’s best. Maybe it is because the Thunder have a bull’s eye on their back from being defending Western Conference champions, or maybe it is all just coincidence.
The Thunder are undoubtedly good, but we just do not know how good. It will all depend on how the playoffs play out. By this time next year, many will remember the Thunder based on how they finished, rather than their average margin of victory in the regular season.