- Tip Off: 7:30 PM PT
- Television: TNT
Oklahoma City Thunder Team Profile
- Offensive Efficiency: 110.2 (2nd in NBA)
- Defensive Efficiency: 99.3 (4th in NBA)
- Points: Kevin Durant, 28.3 PPG
- Rebounds: Kevin Durant, 7.9 RPG
- Assists: Russell Westbrook, 7.5 APG
- Steals: Russell Westbrook, 1.8 SPG
- Blocks: Serge Ibaka, 3.1 BPG
- Field Goal Percentage: Nick Collison, 60.1% FG
- 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: Kevin Martin, 42.1% 3PT FG
Scope the Opposition: Daily Thunder.
Preview: The Oklahoma City Thunder (57-21) are one of the best teams in the league. They presently own the best record in the Western Conference and their plus-9.2 scoring differential is the best in the NBA.
In other words, they are an incredibly difficult team to beat.
Conventional wisdom would have you believe every discussion centered around the Thunder starts with Kevin Durant, but that isn’t quite the case anymore.
Durant is the league’s premier scorer by virtue of his almost comical efficiency. His shooting figures have reached the same stratosphere as Dirk Nowitzki, Larry Bird and Steve Nash. That’s a tier reserved only for the best of the best, and KD is headlining it right now.
That very same efficiency has made him the league’s top clutch (defined as last five minutes of the game with the scoring margin within five points or less) scorer this season. He just does it all.
Per Synergy Sports, Durant is converting 51.4 percent of his shots in post-up situations. This used to be an area where he struggled because of his lack of strength.
Also, Synergy Sports tells us that he’s making 48.5 percent of his shots as the pick-and-roll ball handler. Again, once upon a time, his handle on the ball wasn’t great. But he’s turned every weakness into an advantage.
This explains why the Thunder sport the league’s best offensive efficiency with KD on the floor and a merely average offense when he rides the pine per NBA.com’s advanced stats tool.
Truly, it’s extremely easy to get caught up in Kevin Durant’s production and attribute all of the credit for the team’s success his way.
Many get caught up in the instances when he’s somewhat out of control and consequently marginalize his talent as a point guard. The former Bruin certainly has his flaws, but the positives consistently outweigh the negatives.
Many despise when he pulls from 3-point range in transition, but Synergy Sports tells us he makes that shot 39.4 percent of the time.
In addition, his turnovers coupled with his low shooting percentages are less than ideal at the point guard position, or so the saying goes.
Mind you, since March 1st, Westbrook is averaging 24.4 points, 6.4 assists and 2.7 turnovers per game on 45.3 percent field goal shooting.
Surprisingly, when Russ is off the floor, the Thunder offense takes a step back. It’s still more than above average, but it’s no longer in the top five of the league according to NBA.com’s advanced stats tool.
In short, Russell Westbrook is essential to the Thunder’s success. It’s worth noting that this isn’t merely a two-man operation. Terrific complementing parts surround the duo.
Each and every player on the roster has a specific role they embrace that makes the team what it is.
Scott Brooks’ unit is in the running for home court advantage in the west, and all of that talent will be on full display at Oracle Arena tonight.
This will be Oklahoma City’s last game against an opponent with a winning record this season and you have to believe that means something. The Thunder will want to send a message in front of a national television audience.
The atmosphere will still be one of a regular season game, but it should still make for an awesome game tonight.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.
Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at JM.Poulard@Warriorsworld.net.