Oklahoma City Thunder player grades: Kevin Durant leads the surge as OKC goes 5-0

We thought the Thunder would struggle without Westbrook...we were wrong.

The Thunder finished perhaps their best week of basketball, going 5-0 and defeating two playoff teams on back-to-back nights in the Trail Blazers and Spurs. Which players made their mark?

Game 1: Thunder push forward with impressive win over Kings, 108-83

Game 2: Thunder finally solve Trail Blazers, 105-97

Game 3: Thunder knock off Spurs on the road, 111-105

Game 4: Thunder win first game in OKC history without Westbrook & Durant, defeat Celtics 101-83

Game 5: Thunder finish week strong with win over 76ers, 103-91

***

Durant_medium

KEVIN DURANT Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 36.0 8.0 7.0 1.0 1.8 5.3 +14.3
JUAN Grade_aplus_medium If we had an image for an A++++, that's the grade I would have given Kevin Durant this week. He is dominating the league right now and people are just expecting something spectacular out of him every week. He seems to be playing angry, but under control. He struggled to sort out when to pass or when to shoot when Westbrook first went down, but he's got that under control. Kevin Durant is just in that zone that every great gets in from time to time. This is great.
SHERMAN Grade_aplus_medium It seems almost unfair to assign a grade to Kevin Durant this past week, because it is difficult to examine it in anything other than historical context as Durant posted stat lines so ludicrous that all you can really do is accept them for what they are, as if you suddenly came across Bigfoot having a picnic in your back yard. It's just like, there he is, yo. I guess it's for real. So very real. More importantly though, Durant isn't simply posting these stat lines, he's operating as the central star in his team's orbit, and his play is enhancing his teammates' performances.

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 I think being sidelined might actually be helping Westbrook learn the game from a different angle. Obviously, we want him to be out on the court, but he's witnessing his running-mate dominate the league right now. When he comes back, he'll try and not mess with that production, while still adding his aggression.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium
As long as Russell Westbrook continues to make road trips with his team despite not being cleared to play, encourage his young teammates, and look fabulous, I'm going to continue to grade him highly. Busting on Ibaka's travel garb helps too. Serge NoSocka, indeed. He even found time to troll the Philly fans. I'm sure that will go over well, city of Silver Linings Playbooks.
Sefolosha_medium

THABO SEFOLOSHA Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 5 8.2 2.4 0.4 0.4 0.8 1.0 +8,8
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium
Thabo Sefolosha found his stroke this week from beyond the arc and it's what we've been waiting to see. His defense was spectacular this week against good guards. The next step for Thabo is to find the consistency.
SHERMAN Grade_aminus_medium
Thabo Sefolosha finished up one of his best weeks of the season. Over the course of these 5 games he finished in double-digit scoring thrice, meaning that he stepped up when his team needed the extra offense. More importantly, his defense was critical in slowing down Damian Lillard in the Thunder's biggest win of the week over the Trail Blazers. He also shot 6-9 from 3-point range, shooting with confidence.

Ibaka_medium

SERGE IBAKA Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 5 18.0 7.6 0.6 3.4 0.6 1.8 +9.2
JUAN Grade_aplus_medium Serge Ibaka was great this week. I mean, GREAT. Him and Durant have found something nice going in the two-man game and he's stepped up to the plate and he's delivered. Averaging 3 and a half blocks a game is ridiculous, even if it was just five games.
SHERMAN Grade_aplus_medium Serge Ibaka has been on a tear as of late. He has scored at least 20 points in 5 of the last 7 games while still anchoring a defense that is allowing 97.7 PPG (7th overall), which included great performances against the Blazers and Spurs. The biggest jump forward for Ibaka though has been his dramatic improvement in the 2-man game with Kevin Durant. KD is setting him up beautifully at the rim and on the perimeter, and Ibaka is shooting with confidence. In the win over the 76ers Durant got 6 assists by setting up Ibaka.
Perk_medium

KENDRICK PERKINS Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 5 4.4 6.6 1.6 0.2 0.4 2.0 +6.4
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium Making a jumpshot during crunch time gives Kendrick Perkins an immediate passing grade, but he's been very effective this season. It seem like his head shaking moments have diminished this season and even when they do happen, you kind of don't feel as bad anymore because of his solid all-around play.
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium
Kendrick Perkins continues to make good progress in his overall performance. While he's always going to have moments that make you cringe, he had several legitimately big moments, none more critical than his 4th quarter performance against the Blazers. On one end of the court he was getting a huge block on Damian Lillard and on the other he was sinking a clutch baseline jumper that helped put away Portland for the first time this season.

Jackson_medium

REGGIE JACKSON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 5 15.4 4.0 6.0 0.0 0.8 2.2 +7.0
JUAN Grade_bminus_medium
Statistically, Reggie Jackson had a really good week this week and he probably deserves a little bit better grade than what I'm giving him. The only problem that I found here was his brutal performance against the Sixers. He torched the Spurs, but had a really bad performance against Philly. Consistency is something young players fight through, and Jackson is no different. He'll bounce back and get a better grade next time.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
Reggie Jackson continues his rolling and tumbling season with another highlight coupled with a lowlight. He has officially claimed master chief status over the Spurs, posting a remarkable 27-8-2-2 without Westbrook to occupy the Spurs defense. Meanwhile, he struggled to a 1-9, 5 point in 29 minutes performance against the lottery-bound 76ers. What is the problem? I think that it might be something that Westbrook used to have to fight through. He wanted to play spectacular all the time, which made for uneven performances. Instead, Westbrook learned (and Jackson will too) that often times, just playing within his normal means is quite enough to be the best PG on the court.
Lamb_medium
JEREMY LAMB Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 5 10.4 3.2 2.2 0.0 0.8 0.4 +2.8
JUAN Grade_b_medium Jeremy Lamb is still battling the inconsistency bug, much like Jackson, but he's still putting up some really decent numbers since becoming the main guy off the bench. With Lamb, it's all about continued progress.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
After a strong month of December shooting the 3-pointer, Lamb's percentage has fallen off. Why might that be? Well, it might be because with Westbrook out of the game, Lamb has had to shoulder a lot more of the ball handling duties and setting up his teammates, thereby limiting his pure catch-and-shoot opportunities. For example, against the Spurs he only shot 4-11 but had 5 assists. That's a good tradeoff and why we can't criticize him much for his shooting woes.

Adams_medium

STEVEN ADAMS Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 5 1.8 5.2 0.8 0.6 0.6 1.2 +2.0
JUAN Grade_b_medium Steven Adams gave in some good minutes against some top big man in the league this week, which is huge for his development. Kiwi Strong solid again.
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium
Steven Adams played 3 strong games in a row against the Kings, Blazers, and Spurs, 3 teams that have advantages down low. Adams helped the Thunder reduce their vulnerability in the paint against the likes of DeMarcus Cousins, Tim Duncan, and LaMarcus Aldridge, and it was a factor in those 3 wins. His minutes in the other two games were limited because Philly and Boston wanted to go small, so Adams had to sit more than usual.
Collison_medium

NICK COLLISON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 5 7.2 4.6 1.8 0.2 0.6 0.4 +4.2
JUAN Grade_a_medium
Nick Collison was a huge performer in the game the Thunder needed the role players to step up the most this week. He and the rest of the role players picked up the slack against Boston in unfamiliar territory with Durant and Westbrook sidelined with injury. Really impressive week by Collison and his crew.
SHERMAN Grade_aminus_medium
The +/- king actually saw a drop in this metric, but no matter. It was predominantly because Collison was challenged to play a greater role in the offense, so he saw more minutes with the starters and was personally more vulnerable to the swings of the game. What I really dug was how in the Celtics game Collison was charged, along with Lamb, to operate the offense and Nick essentially ran the point without being a threat to dribble, drive, or even shoot that often. Really strong performance and an example of how role players can step up when leaders are missing.

Fisher_medium

DEREK FISHER Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 5 6.4 1.0 2.0 0.0 1.2 1.2 +5.6
JUAN Grade_b_medium Oh Derek Fisher.. good week on the court, but check out the video below.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
Derek Fisher played a strong week I guess, hitting 40% from 3-point range. Unfortunately for all of us, this is for what he will be remembered.

Jones_medium

PERRY JONES III Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 5.5 1.8 0.5 0.0 0.8 0.0 +4.0
JUAN Grade_b_medium Perry Jones got the start against Boston with Kevin Durant sidelined and he did a really good job. It's silly to expect him to do anything near of what Durant does, but he looked like he belonged out on the court, which sometimes it doesn't feel that way.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium Perry Jones got to see a bit of extra action this past week, most notably because Kevin Durant was out vs the Celtics. Naturally, PJIII was called upon to play the Durant role. While his point production wasn't quite at the same level, the important thing is that Jones maintained himself as a threat to score at all times, and as such proved to be an effective if not dominant player.

Roberson_medium

ANDRE ROBERSON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 1.0 1.0 0.3 0.3 .0 0.0 +0.3
JUAN Grade_cplus_medium It's getting really tough to figure out what uniform Andre Roberson is wearing week in and week out.
SHERMAN Grade_cplus_medium
Andre Roberson got little more than spot duty this past week, but as always, as long as he is in the game he is making contributions on the court. Just don't ask him to shoot (yet).

Thabeet_medium

HASHEEM THABEET Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 2 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 -2.5
JUAN Grade_b_medium Hasheem Thabeet got minutes because the Thunder were pounding their opponent, which is a great reason. Now we know when we see Thabeet rocking the fro, the Thunder are either winning big or losing big. Hopefully it's the latter, most of the time.
SHERMAN Grade_cplus_medium Hasheem Thabeet got on the court once again, clocking in a grand total of 3 minutes of action. That means either the Thunder won big or lost big. Fortunately for us all, it was the former, and Hash was right there in the mix....of celebrating.

Ivey_medium

ROYAL IVEY Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 2 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 -2.0
JUAN Grade_a_medium I was going to give him a C, but since I read Sherman's stat since Ivey joined the team, he gets an A.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium
How does a guy who is only on the team with a 10 day contract and has played a total of 5 minutes and grabbed 1 rebound deserve an 'A?' The team is 6-0 7-0 since he signed. Further proof that there is something to be said about a team identity and morale. As a friend of Durant, Westbrook, and a bunch of the other veterans, Royal Ivey brings it. Never forget Isiah Thomas's "Secret" of basketball.

Brooks_medium

SCOTT BROOKS Coaching Grade
JUAN Grade_aplus_medium Scott Brooks has been excellent as of late. He had to deal with Durant sitting out and making up for that production with the role players. He played the right lineups and everyone answered the bell. Having Kevin Durant on your team also helps you get some good grades, but Brooks has been putting KD is a lot of places for him to succeed. Good week for everyone on this team, so that means the coach, too!
SHERMAN Grade_aplus_medium
It is difficult to remember a better stretch over the past 2 years than what Scott Brooks has accomplished in this current sequence. He has had to deal with issues that the team has never dealt with before, including multiple back-to-backs, several of which involved playoff teams vying for a championship. On top of that, he had to endure the loss of Westbrook and at least for 1 game, Durant. Even with all of these factors, Brooks led his team to a strong showing every night. Well done.

Thunder_medium

TEAM GRADE Record OffRtg DefRtg AstRatio REB% TS% PACE +/-
(Advanced Stats) 5-0 113.2 100.4 16.9 52.7% 57.8% 93.37 +11.8
JUAN Grade_aplus_medium Kevin Durant is a big part of this winning streak, but he's not the only one. Serge Ibaka was amazing all week and probably got overshadowed by Durant's performances. Reggie Jackson struggled against Philadelphia, but he was really good in all the other games, especially against San Antonio. Jeremy Lamb and Nick Collison stepped up in Durant's absence and Kendrick Perkins hit a baseline jumper that gave the Thunder a nice cushion against the Blazers. Crazy, right? This is probably the best the team has looked all year and to think that they're doing it without a star players makes me think that the Thunder might be the best team in the league.
SHERMAN Grade_aplus_medium I've been watching the Thunder for a long time now, and it is difficult to think back to another time during the regular season where they played such an impressive stretch of basketball. In the past they might have beaten the weaker teams but then faltered against the good ones, or gotten up for the good teams and then fell in trap games. Not this week though. They did it without Westbrook and for a game they did it without Durant as well. Despite these hardships, the team never broke stride. They now sit atop the West and have put a scare into everybody. What more, they have turned what many thought would be a rough stretch into a dominant one.

*All player images via US Presswire

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