This season the Thunder are tied with the Jazz for 1st place in the Northwest with a record of 18-8. They are on a 4 game win streak with home & road records of 9-4. They are 6-2 for December and their 2 losses came on the road to Chicago and Toronto. They have not lost at home to a team under .500. Their home losses came at the hands of the Jazz, the Celtics, the Spurs and the Mavs.
The Thunder made some moves in the off season, but nothing of major importance to the lineup. They acquired Daequan Cook along with the 18th pick in the 2010 draft for the 32nd pick to help Miami clear cap space. They used the pick to draft Eric Bledsoe, and they also drafted Craig Brackins and Quincy Pondexter. Then they turned around and traded Bledsoe to the Clippers for a future 1st rounder, and they traded Brackins and Pondexter to New Orleans for Cole Aldrich and Morris Peterson. And, later they signed FA Royal Ivey. None of the additions are seeing major minutes, and everyone probably wishes that they had held on to the 18th pick, which turned out to be Bledsoe.
The most recent starters for OKC are; at center Serge Ibaka a 6-10 forward in his 2nd season. He’s averaging 10.5 pts / 6.5 rebs / 2.5 blks. AT PF is 6-9 Jeff Green who’s in his 4th season. He’s averaging 17.6 pts / 6.3 rebs. At SF is 6-9 Kevin Durant who’s also in his 4th season. He leads the NBA in scoring with 27.5 pts/ 6.9 rebs /2.9 asts. At SG is 6-7 Thabo Sefolosha who’s in his 5th season, and is averaging 6.5 pts / 5.5 rebs / 1.6 stls. The PG is Russell Westbrook a 6-3 guard in his 3rd season, who averages 23.3 pts / 5.2 rebs / 8.6 asts. All but Ibaka started for the Thunder last season. And, none of the 5 are especially good shooting from 3pt range, with Green leading the bunch at .307.
Thunder center Nenad Krstic missed the last 2 games due to a lower back strain suffered in the Dec 8th game against the Twolves. James Harden, last seasons #1 pick backs up Sefolosha, and Eric Maynor backs up Westbrook. Both Nick Collison and BJ Mullens can see sometime at center, DJ White will play some PF. Harden and Maynor are the only real 3pt threats with Harden shooting around 42% on 3 attempts per game, and Maynor shooting 40% on about 1.5 attempts per game. Durant and Green have combined for 190 attempts but only shoot 30%. Actually, the Thunder rely a great deal on Durant and Westbrook, who supply almost half of OKC’s points on 45% of all their FGA’s.
OKC ranks 11th in scoring, and around 14th in defensive efficiency; scoring around 103.2 ppg with almost 83 ppg coming from the starters, and the team gives up around 101.9 ppg. They’re 20th in FG% and are the only team that shoots worse than the Kings from beyond the arc at around 31.9%. They’re a below average Offensive Rebounding team, but they don’t turn over the ball and they’re the 2nd best team at getting to the FT line where they average almost 86%. The Kings are a slightly better defensive rebounding team, but the Thunder block more shots.
The Kings might have the rebounding advantage, but not much of anything else. OKC’s starters have been playing well together for over a year, and they have Westbrook and possibly this year’s MVP in Durant. They are almost impossible to beat at home unless you’re a playoff contender. Although, the Kings were 1-3 last season against OKC, winning by 3 in Arco and losing the other home game by 6, and they lost by 13 & 6 in Oklahoma City. Still, it’s hard to see the Kings winning in OKC again this season. Although two halves like the 1st half in New Orleans would do the trick. Go Kings!