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Thunder weekly grades: five big wins over the Pistons, Bucks, Cavaliers, Timberwolves and Suns

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The Thunder just completed their best week of this young season, going 5-0 and climbing to within a few games of the playoff seeds. Who made their mark during this surge?

The Thunder are nearly 100% whole, and over the past week they have begun to show signs of obtaining the form that they will need to start their assault

Game 1: Thunder nearly stumble but hold on vs Pistons, 96-94

Game 2: Thunder get revenge against Bucks, 114-101

Game 3: Thunder take down LeBron-less Cavaliers, 103-94

Game 4: Thunder rout Timberwolves on the road, 111-92

Game 5: Thunder crush Suns 112-88, knocking on the 8th seed's door

***

KEVIN DURANT Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 5 29.3 21.5 5.8 5.3 1.3 1.0 3.8 +8.8
ALI
grade_Bplus
Durant's numbers are satisfying as he's falling under a 30 minutes restriction. He's not explosive as he used to be. However, he's gradually improving and will be tested this week.
SHERMAN
grade_Bplus
Kevin Durant hasn't hit warp factor 5 yet, but to the Thunder's benefit, he hasn't needed to. What he has done is integrate more and more of his game seamlessly into the Thunder offense while not hurting the overall flow, best indicated by the fact that he's only taking 13 shots per game. The defense and rebounding are slowly returning, and what is great to see now is that when Durant's unique skillset is needed to close out games, the ability is still there, as he closed out the Cavaliers with a personal 8 point run late in the 4th.

RUSSELL WESTBROOK Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 5 34.5 27.5 7.3 7.0 0.0 1.5 4.3 +9.0
ALI
grade_Aplusplus
By just looking at his numbers, you can easily notice that his performance is tremendous. He's a huge part of the Thunder's success as he's lifting the team on both offensive and defensive ends and their aggressive movement is off of his back.
SHERMAN
grade_A
By my estimation Russell Westbrook has had only one bad game so far (Pelicans) and in every other one, he has shown growth in every aspect of his entire game. He is more efficient shooting the ball, takes better shots, is more focused on defense, and as a result he's hitting a new level of play. As one person pontificated during the Timberwolves rout, maybe this is just the way Russ plays now. For me, what I love most is that he finally has more teammates willing to attack the rim (Adams, Roberson), and he's rewarding them by setting them up to do so.
SERGE IBAKA Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 5 28.8 12.0 5.5 0.5 2.8 0.8 1.5 +11.3
ALI
grade_Cplus
As a defensive anchor, what he's doing on the floor is acceptable, but for a player who has the ability to expand his range and contribute creatively on the offensive end, the points he's averaging are too low. Beside that, as my mate Sherman stated, his rebounding effort has been really weak.
SHERMAN
grade_C
It has been noted before, but Serge Ibaka is the rare role player who is both really good at his given skill set, but not good at all in the other areas of basketball. He seems to be having a difficult time transitioning from a shoot-first offensive player into someone who can naturally work the 2-man game. Also, his rebounding effort is down, an area where he needs to thrive to help the Thunder transition game develop.

ANDRE ROBERSON Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 5 19.5 3.8 4.5 1.0 0.5 1.8 0.8 +4.5
ALI
grade_B
That dude keeps impressing me defensively. Due to his lock down defense, he deserves the starting spot. However, despite his ability to attack the paint offensively, he simply can't shoot the ball and needs to show some more courage taking open shots.
SHERMAN
grade_Bplus
Andre Roberson does 2 things well, but boy, when he's doing those 2 things, it makes a huge impact. He's only playing a reserve player's minutes despite being the starting 2-guard, but when he is on the court his defensive intensity is reaping dividends. Also, it says a lot that he may have had the best dunk of the week, given that he plays on the same team as Westbrook.
STEVEN ADAMS Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 5 20.3 7.8 7.0 0.3 1.3 0.0 1.5 +7.0
ALI
grade_Bplus
Adams is finally reconstructing his presence strongly on the floor as a starting center for the Thunder. He recorded a double-double against the TimberWolves, which proves that he can perform well; now he needs to do it on a nightly basis.
SHERMAN
grade_Bplus
Uneven performance from week to week? It is almost as if Steven Adams was a young player! Adams bounced back in a big way this past week, exerting himself much better on the interior. He was rewarded by the offense setting him up for scoring opportunities vs the Timberwolves, and he converted well.

REGGIE JACKSON Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 5 26.8 10.3 4.3 2.5 0.0 0.0 1.0 +4.3
ALI
grade_B
Since Westbrook returned, he's kind of struggling to find his proper offensive rhythm and his numbers prove that. As sixth man player, he needs to contribute more offensively and stop shooting so many 3's.
SHERMAN
grade_Bminus
Perhaps no other Thunder player has had to subjugate their personal game as much as Reggie Jackson has. Secondary caretaker doesn't have quite the same buzz as "4th quarter hero." We will continue to watch how Jackson adjusts.
JEREMY LAMB Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 18.3 7.3 2.8 1.5 0.3 0.8 0.0 -3.0
ALI
grade_Cplus
He gained some of his confident back, but I don't really see his confidence reflected on his game constantly.
SHERMAN
grade_Cplus


Jeremy Lamb's shooting has returned to earth but fortunately for him, his strong and confident play is being rewarded by consistent minutes in the rotation. He has responded with steady if unspectacular play. He sat out the Suns game with a reported sore foot, but methinks that has more to do with giving newcomer McGary a chance to play than anything else.

KENDRICK PERKINS Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 5 19.5 2.8 7.3 1.0 1.0 0.5 2.0 +1.3
ALI
grade_Bplus
Perkins is totally impressing me. He's finally playing at his highest peak with the Thunder. However, he needs to figure out how to finish consistently at the rim.
SHERMAN
grade_Aminus
Perk has been Perking it up and I cannot think of to many ways that he could play better now. Well, maybe he could convert a layup. He's also setting us up for a sweet showdown with Rudy Gay, and that counts for something too.

NICK COLLISON Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 4 14.3 1.0 3.7 2.3 0.7 1.3 0.3 +3.7
ALI
grade_C
What can you expect from an old player?
SHERMAN
grade_C
A quiet week for Collison.  Though it doesn't show up in stats, he still has a positive impact in limited minutes.

PERRY JONES III Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 14.0 2.5 1.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 1.0 +2.5
ALI
grade_Cplus
Jones is returning from an injury and it seems that he's finding some difficulties in returning to his usual performance. It will take time.
SHERMAN
grade_C
Jones finally returned from injury.  While he will need time to get reacclimated, the reality is that the team looks very different today than it did when he got hurt. Did Jones miss his shot?

ANTHONY MORROW Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 5 23.5 9.8 1.3 1.0 0.0 1.3 0.3 +9.5
ALI
grade_Bplus
I love what Morrow is doing on the court, but he's not yet shooting a great percentage. However, he needs to score more points as he's averaging 23.5 minutes a game.
SHERMAN
grade_B
I think Morrow's minutes are a bit beyond his production but that is a small quibble. He is making his impact felt and you can tell his teammates appreciate Morrow's contribution. He's all-amped all the time, and has shown that he can be trusted to contribute outside of just scoring.

ISH SMITH Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 3.0 3.0 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.0 -2.5
ALI
grade_C
As Sherman said, as long as he's not playing any meaning full minutes, things are going well.
SHERMAN
grade_C
As long as Smith isn't playing any meaningful minutes, things are going well.

MITCH MCGARY Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 1 7.0 3.0 4.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.0 +1.0
ALI
grade_Cplus
McGary made his NBA debut against the Suns after experiencing an injury earlier in the beginning of the season. Beside how energetic he was, I didn't notice anything impactful he has done in the game.
SHERMAN
grade_B
Mitch McGary got his NBA debut against the Suns, and he was the bundle of energy we expected. I'm getting a little "young Charles Barkley" vibe from him, and I like it.

LANCE THOMAS Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 1 4.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 -6.0
ALI
grade_C
Numbers never lie.
SHERMAN
grade_C
His days are numbered.

Thunder_medium

TEAM GRADE Record OffRtg DefRtg AstRatio REB% TS% PACE +/-
(Advanced Stats) 5-0 108.2 96.5 16.4 56.9% 55.1% 98.3 +10.8
ALI
grade_A
The Thunder are on a win streak and since Durant returned, they had only lost to the Pelicans. They are on the right track and within a week nobody will be asking whether the Thunder are still a playoff team.
SHERMAN
grade_A
The Thunder completed their best week of the season and made up significant ground, virtually ready to kick the Suns out of the playoffs (unfortunately for Phoenix, given the rest of the west, their time has already passed). Better yet they are getting stronger as Durant in particular round into form. They passed their test against the Cavs and they have some big ones on the horizon that they are now ready to take on.

SCOTT BROOKS Coaching Grade
ALI
grade_A
Since his squad is doing a great job, then obviously he's doing a great job as well.
SHERMAN
grade_Aminus
Scott Brooks is doing a good job finding the right mix of strategy and personnel to get his team 4 important wins. The one area lacking right now is the periods of time right after okc shifts into overdrive and has a hard time easing back into normal offensive flow. It nearly led to collapses against the Pistons and Cavs.

*All player images via www.usatodaysportsimages.com