Oklahoma City Thunder Player Grades: Kevin Durant and the gang turn the ship around

The Thunder finished last week 2-1, with 2 huge wins over potential conference playoff teams. How did it happen? Who stepped up?

The Oklahoma City Thunder went 2-1 this past week, but as opposed to a week ago, there is much to be excited about. The Thunder defense has been a primary component in their turnaround, the offense is finding its way, and lastly, Kevin Durant.

Game 1: Thunder come up short against Grizzlies again, 90-76

Game 2: Thunder use dominant defensive 2nd half to crush Rockets, 104-92

Game 3: Thunder ride Kevin Durant's 54, defeat Warriors ,127-121

***

Durant_medium

KEVIN DURANT Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 42.3 4.3 5.7 0.3 1.0 5.3 5.3
JUAN Grade_aplus_medium There is no words to describe the offensive dominance Kevin Durant is on for about a month now. He led the furious comeback against the Rockets and he just dominated the Warriors and dropped a "50 piece nugget with a side of fries" like Westbrook likes to say. Unbelievable week for KD.
SHERMAN Grade_aplus_medium Kevin Durant quite possibly reached his apex as a performer this past week. The crown jewel of course was his career-high 54 points against the Warriors, an achievement so awe inspiring that Durant's contemporary LeBron James was left with wishful thinking. However, don't sleep on Durant's other 2 games as well, where by and large he did everything he could do to help deliver his team a win. If his pass to Ibaka led to a made 3-pointer, we might have been looking at the best week of the Thunder's season.

Westbrook_medium

RUSSELL WESTBROOK Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 0 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a +1000
JUAN Grade_a_medium You have to love the enthusiasm Russell Westbrook brings from the sideline, even though we all know him being hurt is killing him and he would much rather be out with his teammates. He's shown a great deal of maturity and I think this might actually be benefiting him. We'll see when he returns.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium
A) This shirt. B) Russell Westbrook continues to show a high level of maturation and leadership by simply being around his team, cheering them on continuously, helping the younger guys out when needed, and also this shirt.
Sefolosha_medium

THABO SEFOLOSHA Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 3.0 3.7 0.7 0.3 1.7 1.7 -4.0
JUAN Grade_c_medium Thabo Sefolosha had a couple of decent defensive games. The good thing is that decent for him, is usually really good for another player. The verdict has been out on him about his offense and it's been really inconsistent to say the least.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium
Thabo Sefolosha's offense still continues to be up and down and he's also seemed to have developed a case of the "Perksies," that type of thing where you suddenly lose bodily coordination. He had at least 2 plays against the Warriors where it was just baffling that he could have turned the ball over in such a way. That said, Sefolosha's defense has been good and was a big reason why the Thunder were able to get on top of both the Rockets and Warriors. Perhaps that's all we should be expecting of him at present.

Ibaka_medium

SERGE IBAKA Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 17.7 7.7 0.7 3.0 0.7 1.7 -0.7
JUAN Grade_a_medium After a couple of slow weeks, Ibaka earned this grade this week. First of all, let's talk about how ridiculously awesome his step-back three was. Then he follows that up with an incredibly efficient game against Houston. 21 points and 15 rebounds while only missing three shots, gets you an A.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium
Unless your name is Durant, this is your top Thunder performer of the week. Serge Ibaka put together a really good string of games, shooting 62.2% from the floor and acting as a perfect compliment to Durant's offense. When Durant drove, Ibaka popped. When Durant ran a high PnR, Ibaka rolled to the rim. His only weakness at this point is that he doesn't know quite what to do when a smaller man switches on him, but other than that, this is the best stretch of Ibaka's season.
Perk_medium

KENDRICK PERKINS Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 4.0 8.0 1.7 0.7 1.3 2.0 2.0
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium
Kendrick Perkins had a really nice game against the Warriors, especially rebounding. He grabbed 12 boards and he was even active offensively. He was also on the floor when the Thunder took off against the Rockets and really set the tone defensively. Just a really good week for Perk.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
While Perkins still has moments during the game where he looks a bit uncoordinated, he really rounded into form while he was not touching the ball. On offense he was setting the screens his teammates needed and firing some slick backdoor passes to cutters, and on defense he is doing his best to stay in front of his man and collect defensive rebounds. At 22 minutes a game, that's good production.

Jackson_medium

REGGIE JACKSON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 18.0 3.3 4.3 0.0 3.0 4.0 1.7
JUAN Grade_bminus_medium
Reggie Jackson struggled against a stout Grizzlies defense, but he bounced back nicely with really solid games against Houston and Golden State. It's good to see Reggie continue to be aggressive despite not playing his best basketball recently. All of these minutes and down games will help him as the Thunder try and make a push towards the finals.
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium I really liked Jackson's performance this past week. Yes he struggled against the Grizzlies in turning the ball over, but I thought that it was good that he got back to a level of aggression that the team needs, especially on defense. This re-commitment manifested itself fully in the next two games when Jackson played hard on both ends of the court. He had a tough time staying with Stephen Curry (as any one would) but the fact that he kept his head in the game and never let up eventually helped give OKC the point differential they needed.
Lamb_medium
JEREMY LAMB Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 8.7 3.7 1.3 0.3 0.0 0.7 4.0
JUAN Grade_cminus_medium
Jeremy Lamb had a really bad shooting week, especially against the Rockets where he only made one 3-point field goal in six tries. A nice positive was Lamb attacking the boards against a big Grizzlies front court, which shows he'll do other things if his shot isn't going down. That's a great sign, in my opinion.
SHERMAN Grade_cplus_medium
Lamb's point production dropped this past week, as he struggled shooting the ball. In particular, he struggled from 3-point range, which greatly contributed to the Thunder's long range shooting woes. Lamb only shot 21.4% from beyond the arc in 3 games. That said, he was still getting over 25 minutes per night, which is a huge deal because it means that even when he's not shooting well, the team still trusts him to contribute to a winning effort.

Adams_medium

STEVEN ADAMS Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 5.3 6.0 0.3 0.0 0. 7 1.0 4.0
JUAN Grade_c_medium
Kiwi Strong strikes again, this time the victim was Dwight Howard. Steven Adams got into it a little bit with Dwight and it was so much fun. Unfortunately, Adams fouled out from two games this week, but had a nice showing against the Grizzlies, which have Z-Bo and Marc Gasol down in the block.
SHERMAN Grade_cplus_medium
I would have loved to grade Steven Adams higher, but at the end of the day, you gotta stay on the court. Adams fouled out in both the Rockets and Warriors games and picked up a lot of cheap fouls that really limited his effectiveness. As a result, he only was on the court for 14 minutes a game, which limited his overall production.
Collison_medium

NICK COLLISON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 2.7 3.0 2.0 0.7 0.0 0.7 9.3
JUAN Grade_bminus_medium
I don't think it's any shocker that the Thunder are just better when Nick Collison is out on the floor. He never puts eye-gauging numbers, but he's always in the right place at the right time and he's always making winning plays. Any fan that doesn't love him needs to reevaluate.
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium
How is it that a guy who barely averages more than a single basket a game and only a handful of rebounds is so important to his team's success? Once again Nick Collison was the team's high +/- man for the week, and was very instrumental in his team's turnaround win over the Rockets. When he's in the game, it is amazing how much better the team communicates both offensively and defensively. I'd bump him up to an 'A' if he could have made a few more shots.

Fisher_medium

DEREK FISHER Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 4.3 0.0 1.0 0.0 1.3 0.0 6.3
JUAN Grade_c_medium
Derek Fisher was pretty solid this week despite struggling a bit from the floor. The best part about him is that he knows when to give Durant the ball when he's on fire. I guess Kobe Bryant taught him well all those years.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium Careful, Scott Brooks. Fisher is playing just well enough where you might think he should warrant more minutes and shot attempts. This would be a mistake.

Jones_medium

PERRY JONES III Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 0.0 2.5 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 -4.5
JUAN Grade_d_medium
Perry Jones got some minutes against the quicker teams this week: Houston and Golden State. Unfortunately, he didn't really deliver. He looked outmatched most of the time and besides a couple of rebounds, he really didn't make much of an impact. He's got to start taking advantage of his limited minutes, or they'll soon turn to no minutes.
SHERMAN Grade_d_medium After a run where PJIII seemed to be finding an offensive groove shooting the ball from the perimeter, he has fallen back to earth. He did not score a single point all week, and it has been a while since he has hit the corner-3, a shot that he appeared to becoming very comfortable with. It hasn't hurt the team much, but Jones needs to provide something offensively to justify more than token clean-up minutes.

Roberson_medium

ANDRE ROBERSON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 0 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
JUAN Grade_c_medium Andre Roberson keeps on going back-and-forth between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, but he's a young player and I'm all for him getting some minutes down in the D-League.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium Roberson was not dressed this past week, and it was probably the right decision for the Thunder. Roberson is a wonderful player on defense and on the glass, but in games where the Thunder needed a lot of offense, he would not have helped the team.

Thabeet_medium

HASHEEM THABEET Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 0 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
JUAN Grade_cplus_medium I just love how Hasheem Thabeet sits on the bench and cheers during timeouts. Don't you?
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium Thabeet did not make a jumper this week, so he gets docked half a letter grade. I need more, Hash.

Brooks_medium

SCOTT BROOKS Coaching Grade
JUAN Grade_aminus_medium
What the Thunder did to the Houston Rockets in the second-half was unbelievable. The Rockets poured in 73 points in the first half, but whatever Brooks told them at halftime, really worked. Yeah, it was a little bit of Houston missing shots, but the defensive effort was so much better after the half. Also, when ESPN would get into the huddle for the Warriors game and he kept asking his guys "Do you want to stop Curry" I would start yelling "YES COACH, IM READY" at my TV. I'm a little crazy, but he knows how to get his players ready.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium
The Thunder did drop a game this past week, but I'm not going to knock Brooks because I felt like the Grizzlies game was a turning point. After a week where it looked like the Thunder were sleepwalking, he got them ready to compete against their rivals from Memphis. I think this was integral in getting the team ready to get their back-to-back wins over the Rockets and Warriors. Plus, that Rockets 2nd half. Wow.

Thunder_medium

TEAM GRADE Record OffRtg DefRtg AstRatio REB% TS% PACE +/-
(Advanced Stats) 2-1 107.0 103.0 13.8 53.0% 57.1% 98.6 5.0
JUAN Grade_a_medium
I don't think the Grizzlies loss was a bad one because of the circumstances. The Grizzlies are a great defensive team and when you solely depend on one guy to put up most of the scoring, they'll capitalize on that. Even with all of that, the Thunder were in it until the very end. Now, the Thunder completely shut down the Rockets and played one of their best games of the season against Houston. Having Kevin Durant dropping 54 points for your team really doesn't hurt, either.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium Again, the Grizzlies game was a loss, but I treated it as a win because it was the first time in a while that the Thunder played with some defensive intensity and aggression. That effort carried over into the next two games. The Rockets game in particular was a byproduct, because OKC did not get down on themselves when they fell behind by 14 on the road. They collected themselves, dialed in their defense, and laid waste to the James Harden gang.

*All player images via US Presswire

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