Thunder weekly grades: Kevin Durant & Serge Ibaka lead the charge; who else stepped up?

The Thunder finished up last week 3-1. Which players contributed to another great stretch of basketball?

The Thunder finished a brutal week, 3-1, including wins over the Miami Heat as well as potential playoff teams the Hawks, Wizards, and Nets. How did each player perform? Let's break it down.

Game 1: Durant saves the day with game winner as OKC beats the Hawks, 111-109

Game 2: Thunder finally beat the Heat, 112-95

Game 3: Thunder destroy Nets in Brooklyn, 120-95

Game 4: Thunder see win streak snapped at 10, fall to Wizards 96-81

***

Durant_medium

KEVIN DURANT Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 31.5 4.8 6.0 0.8 0.5 4.0 +7.8
JUAN Grade_a_medium Kevin Durant had a superb month and this week was no different. He put on a show and got the best of LeBron James in their little one-on-one exchange during the Heat game and then he showed out in Brooklyn and was almost perfect from the floor. His struggle against Washington is the only reason why he didn't get an 'A+' But we're just nitpicking now.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium
It seems unfair to actually lower Kevin Durant's grade to an 'A' this week since he is still playing an unbelievable level of basketball, but that's what happens when he raised the standards to an impossibly high level for these past two weeks. What I enjoyed most this past week is that he is developing some incredible chemistry with Ibaka in the 2-man game, with both the pick and roll and pick and pop. Unfortunately Durant's hot streak left him in his home town of D.C., contributing to the Thunder's only loss.

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 Russell Westbrook has a returned date circled now and that's enough for me to give him an 'A'. Can't wait.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium
Russell Westbrook's date of return is now slated at Feb. 20, which incidentally is also the same day they play the Heat again. I know it was technically the previous week, but Westbrook's delightful ribbing of the 76ers fans was superb.
Sefolosha_medium

THABO SEFOLOSHA Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 9.0 4.8 3.5 0.0 3.3 0.8 +9.8
JUAN Grade_a_medium I don't think I have anything negative to say about Thabo Sefolosha this week. He was really good and really effective. In the Miami game, he played as big a part of that win as anybody else on the team. He played some time on LeBron and then he switched over to Wade. That's not an easy afternoon, but he more than held his own.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium I really enjoyed the energy that Thabo Sefolosha brought to the court this past week. Granted, 'energy' guys are usually bench players, but for Sefolosha it manifested in outstanding defense, particularly against the Heat. He was a major reason why they committed so many turnovers and could never get into their rapid fire offense. On top of that, his confidence in shooting appears to be returning as well.

Ibaka_medium

SERGE IBAKA Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 17.5 7.0 0.8 3.0 1.0 1.5 +3.8
JUAN Grade_aplus_medium
When Russell Westbrook went down, we knew Serge Ibaka was going to have to step up and he's done more than anybody could have hoped. This is the second week in a row that he's over 3 blocks a game and he went perfect from the floor against Brooklyn. In the Miami game, he was the perfect wingman to Durant and he constantly found the open spots and he made it work when Durant kept giving him the ball. Chris Bosh was having a really nice month and Ibaka held him in check. Just a fantastic stretch from Serge.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium Serge Ibaka has been the other significant half of the Thunder's offensive output during this stretch. It might seem to be simplistic to think about his production in such terms, but his ability to find his way into open space repeatedly creates all sorts of problems for defenses. It leaves a strange mixture though; we can see both what he excels at (mid-range jumpers) as well as what his game does not yet have (the ability to put the ball on the floor). Even so, his 12-12 shooting night vs the Nets was very impressive.
Perk_medium

KENDRICK PERKINS Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 3.5 5.3 0.8 0.3 0.0 1.8 -2.3
JUAN Grade_b_medium
I'm not too sure that a couple years ago, Kendrick Perkins would have bode well with the idea to sit against the Miami Heat, but he's learned that it gives the team the best chance to win. The Thunder were absolutely terrible with him on the floor against the Heat and we all saw the turnaround when he wasn't on the floor. However, he was up and clapping for his teammates during their run and after the win. It showed good maturity from Perk because I don't think he would have been okay with that earlier in his tenure with the Thunder.
SHERMAN Grade_cplus_medium
Perhaps the biggest contribution that Kendrick Perkins made was by not complaining when he was benched for good only 5 minutes into the win over the Heat. In the other games he gave his usual effort with solid rebounding, and that should be recognized. Unfortunately for him, he just doesn't have a place on the court against Miami, and I do think he realizes that and is willing to put the team first.

Jackson_medium

REGGIE JACKSON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 13.3 4.3 5.0 0.3 1.3 3.5 +4.8
JUAN Grade_cminus_medium
Reggie Jackson wasn't too bad this week, but he's still having some problems running the first unit. His turnover numbers are still high and he doesn't look comfortable a lot of the time. John Wall absolutely dominated him this week.
SHERMAN Grade_cplus_medium
One of the more unusual aspects of this winning streak is that Reggie Jackson was solid some of the time but is still learning to bring an even hand to the Thunder offense. In particular he got into foul trouble in a few games, which meant that he had to give way to Fisher earlier than normal. The Wizards game in particular was tough to watch because you could see that Jackson wanted to go head-to-head with All-Star John Wall, but it ended up getting him in trouble much of the time on his way to 6 turnovers.
Lamb_medium
JEREMY LAMB Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 12.5 1.8 2.0 0.3 0.3 1.5 +5.3
JUAN Grade_a_medium
Jeremy Lamb had such a great game for the Thunder against the Heat. Along with Derek Fisher, he was the reason why the Thunder went on that massive run and came all the way back and took the lead. Lamb is improving week-by-week and it's really good to see.
SHERMAN Grade_aminus_medium
Jeremy Lamb also had a massive game against the Heat and was a big reason why the Thunder were able to stage their 1st half comeback. He scored 18 points in all and 4-6 from 3-point range, but what I loved the most was the confidence that he shot the ball early, knowing that he had the ability (against the champs, no less) to step up and help his team get back into the game. He doesn't always get the same kind of production, but the way Lamb keeps his head in the game is impressive.

Adams_medium

STEVEN ADAMS Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 2.0 2.0 0.3 0.5 0.5 0.8 -3.0
JUAN Grade_dplus_medium
Steven Adams didn't have a good week, but it all wasn't his fault. The Thunder faced teams that don't use a traditional center and having Adams or Perkins on the floor would be problematic. The concern was that, when he did get minutes, he wasn't very good.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium
Not a great week for the rookie Steven Adams. Part of it was matchup issues, as teams like the Heat and Hawks liked/had to go small, which relegated Adams to the bench most of the time. Not his fault, he simply doesn't have the skillset yet to be on the court and make the Heat pay for guarding him with Chris Bosh. On the other hand, I was really hoping for more when he faced off against Nene in Washington. Nene seemed like the kind of guy who could have been a Kiwi Tech victim.
Collison_medium

NICK COLLISON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 4.3 3.5 2.3 0.0 0.5 0.8 +4.3
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium I love Nick Collison. I just really, really love him.
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium
Nick Collison's biggest contribution this past week was in the Thunder's come-from-behind win over the Hawks. OKC was down for most of the game and Atlanta was simply playing a better brand of basketball, but Nick was a key catalyst in helping the Thunder regain their footing on both ends of the court in the 4th quarter. Against Miami and Brooklyn, he too was a byproduct of a lot of smallball lineups so his impact was mitigated.

Fisher_medium

DEREK FISHER Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 7.3 2.3 1.3 0.3 0.5 0.3 +4.5
JUAN Grade_a_medium Derek Fisher muscled his way (pun definitely intended) to a 5-for-5 performance from behind the arc against the Heat and he was a player that showed life when the Thunder looked dead and Reggie picked up a couple quick fouls. He shot the ball well all month, but his performance against Miami was excellent and we all hope he knocks down some big threes in the playoffs.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium
Don't too shocked, but Derek Fisher just wrapped up arguably his best month of regular season basketball in years. He shot 43% from 3-point range in January and his production culminated in an amazing 5-5 shooting night from behind the arc in Miami (including this one). Jackson has unfortunately pushed Fisher into the PG role more than we'd like, but I can't say that he's materially hurt the team while he's out there.

Jones_medium

PERRY JONES III Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 4.8 2.8 1.5 0.8 0.0 0.8 +2.0
JUAN Grade_a_medium LeBron James is arguably the best player in the world and Perry Jones played him as well as anybody in the league. LeBron is great so he made some of those shots, but Jones absolutely drained him on offense and Kevin Durant took care of him on the offensive end. When he starts knocking down his shots and continues to play with energy, the Thunder might have something in their hands.
SHERMAN Grade_aminus_medium
Here is all you need to know about Perry Jones' week. Against Miami, he started the 2nd half in place of Kendrick Perkins, logged 30 minutes of action, and was a major reason why OKC was able to flip the script, turning an 18 point deficit into a 17 point blowout win. His defense, energy, and range on the court made the Thunder dynamic in a way the Heat were not ready to deal with. The only thing I'd dock PJIII is that he's still struggling to hit open shots a lot of the time. Hopefully that will come in time.

Thabeet_medium

HASHEEM THABEET Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 1 2.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 -2.0
JUAN Grade_b_medium
Hasheem Thabeet played this week and it was because the Thunder were cruising. That's always a good thing.
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium
Hasheem Thabeet got on the court this week, during the Thunder's blowout win over Brooklyn. He made a bucket, got a rebound, and almost got out of there without a turnover. I also give him bonus points because I got to meet the man during the Thunder's trip to Washington, and I tend to believe what everyone says about him - he's the friendliest guy on the team. He was the only player to approach me, look me in the eye, and shake my hand. My hand disappeared into his like a baby's into a grown-up's hand.

Brooks_medium

SCOTT BROOKS Coaching Grade
JUAN Grade_aplus_medium
Scott Brooks did everything that Thunder fans begged him to do against Miami in the finals and every game since then. He sat down Kendrick Perkins for the rest of the game, once Miami took a huge lead. It showed that Scott Brooks doesn't really care for feelings anymore and he's just trying to win basketball games and we can all admire that. Now that we know that he's willing to adjust his rotation depending on the competition, I feel a lot better about a run in the playoffs.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium
Scott Brooks earned his stripes this week by keeping his team in the game vs Atlanta, a game which the Thunder probably would have lost a year ago as they were caught looking ahead to Miami, and then of course the Heat game itself. Brooks snapped the necks of beat writers by changing his lineup and going small to contend with Miami's lineup and the adjustment reaped amazing dividends. I'm willing to give Brooks a pass on the loss to the Wizards. team looked lethargic from the onset and in the end showed little interest in trying for the comeback win. Sometimes you gotta let some games go.

Thunder_medium

TEAM GRADE Record OffRtg DefRtg AstRatio REB% TS% PACE +/-
(Advanced Stats) 3-1 112.6 104.7 18.2 52.9% 60.6% 94.3 +7.3
JUAN Grade_a_medium

I thought wins were going to be hard to come by with Westbrook sidelined and I'm so glad I was wrong. The Thunder were the news around the league and took care of a potential NBA Finals foe in Miami's home court, and they dominated. The Wizards game came off a third road game in four days so that's a typical trap game that the team fell in, which is a little bit more acceptable. It would have been nice for the winning streak to continue, but now they can get another going and get Russell after the all-star break.

SHERMAN Grade_a_medium The Thunder concluded a staggering 8 games in 12 days and they went 7-1 in a stretch that included 3 back-to-backs and wins over the Spurs, Trail Blazers, and Heat (ironically their closest game was against the Hawks). That's not bad. Sure it would have been nice to finish it up with a win in Durant's home town, so that keeps them from receiving a perfect A+, but let's be realistic. This kind of stretch in the month of January without Russell Westbrook is the kind of thing that forms the bedrock of a contender's season. They learned so much about what they're capable of, and it is now just a matter of maintaining the momentum.

*All player images via US Presswire

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