The Oklahoma City Thunder are currently 12-3 and have beaten every team that has handed them losses this season. They are also walking around with their chests out as they remain undefeated at home (9-0). There’s been a lot of positive things happening for this team, but it’s the negative that has me thinking. Even though they’re finding ways to win games, they still have plenty of room for improvement.
The Thunder’s team totals have indicated that they aren’t close to playing up to their maximum potential. Just this year, they’ve seen dips in field-goal percentages (both twos and threes), rebounds and points per games. It was obvious that their 3-point percentages were going to drop after Kevin Martin left. It’s not a case of the team being less productive. It’s more a matter of a team trying to get comfortable with new players.
Those new guys have been very efficient thus far and they will only continue to grow. Building team chemistry is one of the hardest things to accomplish, especially over short periods of time. It may be another year before they’re all playing together, and that’s no excuse — this team is expected to compete for a NBA championship this year.
I wouldn’t say that the slippage in the their numbers is really a bad omen, not when you’re sitting at 12-3 in the extremely competitive Western Conference. I guess what I’m saying is that numbers do lie.
Last season, OKC shot 48.1 percent from the field as a team. Right now, they’re shooting 45.7 percent, and they were a lot lower earlier in the year. This is a mark I expect them to reach or even exceed before the regular-season comes to a close.
Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Jackson and Serge Ibaka have been recently displaying their greatly-improved jumpers. They have collectively averaged over 50 percent shooting from the field in their last five games, amazing numbers for three role players.
Russell Westbrook‘s recent struggles has taken a chunk of the team’s shooting totals, but he’s been brilliant. He may never shoot over 50 percent, but you know that you can’t find another player who’ll bring it every single night at maximum velocity. Plus, there’s that tall skinny guy they call the Durantula — he’s pretty darn spiffy himself.
The Thunder have a strong nucleus of exceptional talent, and the numbers could never fully reflect the damage they do on the basketball court. Still, we know that the digits are important and this team knows it as well. Their recent play gives me no doubt that they’ll start to steadily climb as a unit. This team is fast, and they could reach their peak in the blink of an eye.