Weekly Grades: behind Ibaka and Westbrook, are the Thunder finally righting the ship?

This week's grades hopefully reflect a change in trend of Thunder basketball. Check out how each player performed!

This week, the Thunder got off to a really bad start in losing to the Lakers, but it may have been just the thing they needed to wake up from their post all-star slumber. Find out how each player performed!

Game 1: Thunder embarrass themselves vs Lakers, lose 114-110

Game 2: Westbrook, Thunder shut down high powered Rockets, 106-98

Game 3: Thunder barely need 3 quarters to quash Lakers in revenge game, 131-102

***

Durant_medium
KEVIN DURANT Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 32.7 6.3 6.3 1.3 0.3 3.7 +8.3
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium I'm going to agree with Sherman below me, when you lose to the Lakers, you get knocked down at least a letter grade. I wish I can give him a C or something, but his play is still off the charts.
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium
Sorry Kevin Durant, you get dinged a grade if you allow your team to lose to the Lakers. That's just the way it is. What is amazing though is that Durant has clearly taken a step back from his January-February reaping, so it seems like he's not as effective. And then you look at his stat line and you wonder how such a thing is even possible.

Westbrook_medium

RUSSELL WESTBROOK Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 24.3 4.3 8.0 0.3 3.3 5.3 +5.0
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium I love Russell Westbrook's aggressiveness and sometimes it's good aggressive, but sometimes it gets a little out of control. I think after the three-pointer that put the Thunder up 15 in the second quarter of the first Lakers game, Russell got a bit out of control. I don't mind seeing him be aggressive, especially against a guy who thinks that can cover him, but he really can't, as long as it's all under control.
SHERMAN Grade_aminus_medium
This is the Russell Westbrook that absolutely terrifies defenses. It is the level of play where he can take his aggression (Patrick Beverley, ahem) and instead of losing his mind, channel it into the forces of good. When Westbrook revved his engines in the 3rd quarter vs the Lakers, it was lights out.
Sefolosha_medium
THABO SEFOLOSHA 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 Thabo Sefolosha is still out and last week his presence was missed greatly. This week, however, the young guys (Jones and Roberson) did a great job at holding their own in that spot, which is great to see.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium
Thabo Sefolosha continues to be out with injury. To the team's credit, they are patching together a really interesting 1-2 defensive punch between Jones and Roberson. It will be good to get him back, but for the time being it appears that the Thunder are patching up their perimeter defense.

Ibaka_medium

SERGE IBAKA Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 16.0 14.7 0.7 4.3 1.3 1.3 +4.7
JUAN Grade_a_medium This was probably Serge Ibaka's best week since Russell Westbrook returned to the lineup. His stats might be a bit inflated because that's what happens when you play the Lakers and Robert Sacre twice, but he was active and he absolutely dominated the paint. I would have liked to see a hard foul on Jodie Meeks once he was torching the perimeter guys, but that's just me.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium
That there was an impressive week of basketball from Serge Ibaka. The Lakers loss aside (which was mostly because of bad perimeter defense, not post defense), Ibaka is producing these kinds of stat lines with regularity. He helped hold the Rockets inside game in check, and then he went nuts against the Lakers, nearly single-handedly controlling the post defense. Further more, I like seeing those rebounding numbers back up; it makes things much easier to get the break going when Ibaka is grabbing boards and not Durant or Westbrook.
Perk_medium
KENDRICK PERKINS Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
JUAN Grade_c_medium Talking about people who would have given Jodie Meeks a hard foul.. Kendrick Perkins has been missed, but he's been vocal form the bench, which I really do believe helps this team come playoff time.
SHERMAN Grade_c_medium Kendrick Perkins is now the Kiwi whisperer, helping get Adams ready for his big matchups against Howard and Pau Gasol. Hey, that's pretty good.

Jackson_medium

REGGIE JACKSON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 10.3 6.0 2.7 0.0 1.0 0.3 +4.7
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium I think the reason why my grade for Reggie Jackson is so high is mostly because he cut down on the bad things and he was just solid. The Thunder really don't need spectacular (although they will welcome it) but as long as Reggie doesn't hurt the team by taking bad shots or turning the ball over, the Thunder will be fine with his 10-15 points a game.
SHERMAN Grade_aminus_medium
Has Better Basketball returned? Reggie Jackson seems to have regained his footing a bit this past week. He's taking just about the right amount of shots per game, and most importantly, cut down on his weakest skill, the 3-point shot. He still needs to stop looking off Durant in crunch time though.
Lamb_medium
JEREMY LAMB Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 1.7 2.3 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 +1.3
JUAN Grade_c_medium I thought with Thabo Sefolosha going down with injury that Jeremy Lamb will get some more minutes, but the absolute opposite has happened since then, and it's just a sad thing to see. I just pray that his confidence isn't shot.
SHERMAN Grade_d_medium
I feel like shedding a tear for this guy. Jeremy Lamb has legitimate, quantifiable talent on both ends of the court, and I felt like he proved it over the first 3rd of the season. As of now, he's almost completely out of the rotation and I wish I knew why.

Adams_medium

STEVEN ADAMS Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 2.0 4.3 0.3 0.7 0.3 0.3 +6/7
JUAN Grade_a_medium Steven Adams was great against the Rockets this week. He held, probably the best "center" in the league to just 9 points and he altered quite a bit of shots from the smaller guys. He even got into a little fight with James Harden, which is awesome. I would still take James Harden in that trade, but you can give me Adams in a fight any day of the week.
SHERMAN Grade_aminus_medium
It may not look like much for Steven Adams, and his stats didn't materially differ from a week ago, but Adams had one of his best games of the season this year against the Rockets. Thunder fans were worried that without OKC's designated Dwight Howard-stopper Kendrick Perkins that the Rockets would tear them up inside. Didn't happen. Adams stepped up and helped hold Howard to 9 points on 4-12 shooting. Major step forward for Kiwi Strong.
Collison_medium
NICK COLLISON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 2.7 3.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.7 +0.3
JUAN Grade_cplus_medium I think Nick Collison's lack of minutes recently is just trying to save him up for the playoffs, at least I really hope it's just that.
SHERMAN Grade_cplus_medium
Nick Collison is now getting only about 10 minutes per game and averages barely more than a shot per outing. Furthermore, I don't see any of the Thunder reporters asking why. I truly hope they're just saving him for the playoffs.

Fisher_medium

DEREK FISHER Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 6.3 1.3 1.3 0.0 1.7 0.7 +7.0
JUAN Grade_a_medium Derek Fisher has been terrific for most of the season now, and his contribution in the fourth quarter against Houston was nice. He hit a big three and he even penetrated the lane nicely a few times and found an open shooter in the corner. That's the benefit of having a guy like Fisher on your team. When everyone is overthinking the fourth quarter possessions, Fisher has been there plenty of times and for the most part, he's been making the right decisions this season.
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium
Derek Fisher continues to give the Thunder what they need on a nightly basis. While I would like for Fish to get about 5 fewer minutes per game, I have to say that the times where I've watched him play and felt the need to groan is practically non-existent. To be sure he'll still miss the occasional shot or fail a defensive assignment, but that's true of every player in the league. Based on that standard, he's doing his job, and now there are rumors that he may decide to stick around for another year.

Jones_medium

PERRY JONES III Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 4.7 5.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7 +5.7
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium It being tournament time, I can't forget how good Perry Jones was in Baylor, and I'm not saying he's performed even close to that, but he was a draft day steal for the Thunder, in my opinion. I'm really starting to like what Perry Jones has shown this season and I look forward to seeing what he can do and improve with his extended minutes. I think this will help the team tremendously in the playoffs.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
First and foremost, I don't think Perry Jones is hurting the team with his 20 minutes per game, and that's an important fact. He's a great compliment to what the Thunder are doing on both ends of the court. That said, I can't shake the feeling that PJIII has some higher upside offensively that he's not sinking into. I feel like we should be seeing a handful of 12-15 point games by now, coming almost exclusively off of him finishing at the rim.

Butler_medium

CARON BUTLER Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 8.7 4.3 1.0 0.0 0.3 0.7 +3.0
JUAN Grade_bplus_medium Caron Butler is the main reason why Jeremy Lamb is no longer part of the rotation and although I do think there's room for both, the only thing Butler has that Lamb probably doesn't at this point in his career is annoyance and toughness. Butler just annoys people and plays tough, even if his defense isn't what it used to be. Maybe the Thunder are playing a lot of minutes so he can get used to playing with the guys?
SHERMAN Grade_bplus_medium
Caron Butler continued to ingrain himself into the Thunder culture, and it is easy to see that his new teammates are taking a shine to him. I thought he had good production and he was part of the crunch time lineup, so clearly he's earning their trust. What is nagging at me though is that he's getting 25+ minutes per game. Is his production really justifying that commitment, especially at the expense of Lamb? I don't know.

Roberson_medium

ANDRE ROBERSON Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 1 8.0 7.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 +8.0
JUAN Grade_a_medium It was just the Lakers, but Andre Roberson showed why the organization like this kid. He's a pest defensively and he helps out tremendously on the boards. And if he can get those 8 points consistently, this guy can be a big help.
SHERMAN Grade_a_medium
Now there's some of that "wild side" we've been wanting. Even though Andre Roberson only played in the Lakers game this past week, he showed how valuable he can be in the right situation playing along side Westbrook. He simply makes the other guy work hard on offense, something OKC desperately needs from all its players. He's a rebounding machine, and props to Roberson for finishing at the rim.

Thabeet_medium

HASHEEM THABEET Games Played PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 2.0 1.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.3 +2.3
JUAN Grade_b_medium Hasheem Thabeet with another passing grade. It's like he's in UCONN all over again.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
Does Hasheem Thabeet's +2.3 on the court mean that every Thunder player finished in the positive? Indeed it does! Thabeet doesn't need to set the world on fire; he just needs to not hurt the team when he's out there. He did that this week.

Brooks_medium

SCOTT BROOKS Coaching Grade
JUAN Grade_b_medium After a sloppy week, you would have thought that the Thunder would come out and just absolutely pound the Lakers, but that wasn't the case. They dropped a game against an organization that wants to lose and that falls on the shoulders of the players for being lazy and on the coach for not getting them up to play against an NBA team. Although the Thunder beat a hot Rockets team a couple days later and then pounded the same Lakers team, it's hard to give Brooks anything higher than a 'B.'
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium
Again, you lose a full letter grade if you lose to the Lakers this season. Every team though has blips during the season, and that one was a byproduct of a lot of laziness in defense and preparation. Scott Brooks rebounded well though by cobbling together a front line that all but took out the Rockets, and then he got a measure of payback against the Lakers. Not the same as losing the first time, but still. Plus, he actually went to Reggie Williams vs L.A. Reggie Williams, ya'll!

Thunder_medium

TEAM GRADE Record OffRtg DefRtg AstRatio REB% TS% PACE +/-
(Advanced Stats) 2-1 110.0 99.6 16.1 58.7% 56.6% 105.1 +11.0
JUAN Grade_b_medium Again, losing to a team that wants to lose is unacceptable, but it is what it is. The Thunder bounced back and beat the Rockets in a game that had playoffs written all over it. They also crushed the same Lakers team and hopefully the team can get the "we can't take anybody lightly" and make a push for the number one seed in the loaded Western Conference. The difference between the one-seed and the three-seed is a big difference.
SHERMAN Grade_b_medium I'm willing to overlook losses, even bad ones, if that is what it takes in order to snap the Thunder to attention. They finally realized heading into the Rockets game that they could not continue to play as they were, because playing that way was causing them to lose to some of the worst teams in the league. They took their medicine, shut down Houston, and hopefully that means they're off to the races again, understanding that it takes a full game's effort in order to differentiate themselves from everybody else.

*All player images via US Presswire

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