OKC Starting to Roll?
*Photo via USA Today
The Thunder have won 5 of their last 6 six games and are starting to look like a contender in the Western conference. A lot has to do with the return of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but there are some other factors that have helped the Thunder.
One being the OKC defense, one of the best units in the league. The Thunder do a great job of protecting the paint, a lot of that has to do with Ibaka’s shot-blocking and the length of the OKC defenders. They hold opponents to 49.2% on field goals at the rim, landing them the 2nd best mark in the league. Upon holding their opponents to a low percentage at the rim, they also block the 5th most shots in the league. Definitely something that might make an opponent think twice before driving to the rim. The Thunder have gotten a little help with their opponents not shooting well from the free-throw line and shooting a low percentage on uncontested shots. Still most coaches will live with giving up a jumper than a shot in the paint. The Thunder also do a great job of capitalizing on their defense by rebounding, which they lead the league in.( 46.9 rebs per game) The Thunder have solid rebounders in their front-court, but what also helps is the rebounding they get from their guards. Its pretty typical to see Westbrook soaring in for a rebound or the other guards chasing down a long rebound. One of the little things that OKC does that helps their team win games, when they struggle to score.
Even with having Durant and Westbrook, OKC can struggle at times on offense. They have addressed this issue, by adding Dion Waiters. Only time will tell if he will be the solution. He has gotten off to solid start with OKC, better than his play in Cleveland this season. Even with that said, there are a few things OKC can work on if they want to keep their winning ways up, Waiters or not. That is pass the ball more and to drive more. They are 26th in the league in assist per game, a number that should be higher and can be helped with more drives to the rim, where the Thunder are quite effective. OKC is 4th in the league at converting drives at the rim. Yet, they only are 15th in drives to the rim. Driving to the rim won’t only result in more baskets, but more assist and free throw attempts. All things that can help any offense that can be stagnant at times.
If OKC can keep up what their doing on the defensive side of the ball and make a few adjustments on offense, they won’t be someone you want to face playoff time.
*Stats via NBA.com
-By Nicholas Diesing-Fay