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Thunder weekly grades: Durant, Westbrook, Waiters help Oklahoma City turn the corner on the season

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The Thunder finished their week of basketball with a flourish. Which players are regaining their dominant form?

The Oklahoma City Thunder finished the last week at 2-1. After a discouraging start in getting blown out by the Rockets, the Thunder are showing signs of finally returning to dominant form by knocking off the league-leading Warriors and then wiping out the Orlando Magic. Which players performed best?

Game 1: Thunder come out flat, cannot catch Rockets 112-101

Game 2: Thunder earn much needed win over Warriors, 127-115

Game 3: Thunder destroy Magic on the road, 127-99

***

KEVIN DURANT Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 35.3 27.0 10.0 4.3 1.3 0.7 3.0 +9.7
JUAN
grade_Aplus
Kevin Durant played 3 games this week and he only missed 11 shots in those games. That's just insane. Durant is now getting into his MVP-form and that's a great thing if you're a Thunder fan, and a scary thing if you're everybody else in the NBA.
SHERMAN
grade_A
Durant gets a slight ding by not really showing up against the Rockets, but in the past 2 games he has begun to look like the league MVP once again. After the huge win over the Warriors, he said that he's born to score and sometimes he needs to remind people of that. I wonder if the person he was reminding himself of this fact was, in fact, himself.

RUSSELL WESTBROOK Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 32.7 16.7 8.0 10.3 0.3 3.3 5.0 +7.7
JUAN
grade_A
The reason I'm not giving Russell Westbrook an 'A+' this week is because of his high turnover number against the Rockets. Westbrook had 8 turnovers that game and was a little bit too out of control. He bounced back with one of his best professional games against the Warriors and he also did his thing to a Magic team that had absolutely no chance. I wish that Russell wouldn't have overshadowed his amazing performance with his post-game interview, but Russ gon' Russ.
SHERMAN
grade_A
Westbrook struggled like everyone did against the Rockets, but these last two games demonstrate where his happy medium is. Westbrook is at his best when he's playing most of the game in 3rd gear, not overly aggressive, and it allows him to see the game and play within it much more effectively. It also leaves him with extra gears to tap into if his team needs it.
SERGE IBAKA Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 32.0 18.7 7.7 1.7 1.0 0.7 0.7 +3.0
JUAN
grade_Bplus
Serge Ibaka struggled against the Rockets and his 4 three's against the Magic, but his best performance in a long time came against the Warriors. 27 points and 8 rebounds for Ibaka against the Warriors and he put in work against Draymond Green. Ibaka's performance was huge for the Thunder and that win against Golden State could be one of those that you look back on and say, "damn, that's when it all changed." Or at least I hope so.
SHERMAN
grade_Aminus
It is unfair to expect the kind of game Ibaka had against Golden State every night, but the one thing that OKC did in that game that we rarely see is they used Ibaka in the 4th quarter. He finished with 14 points in the final quarter on 6-7 shooting, with every assist coming from Westbrook. With Ibaka as an offensive weapon, it opens everything up and deals with OKC's tendency to stagnate late in games.

ANDRE ROBERSON Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 15.0 4.0 3.0 0.3 0.7 0.3 1.7 -7.7
JUAN
grade_C
Andre Roberson is pretty much doing his best Thabo Sefolosha impersonation. He's getting the starts but isn't getting big minutes after that. Dion Waiters has pretty much gobbled up his minutes, but Roberson has shown some really nice flashes.
SHERMAN
grade_B
The Rockets loss represented the downside of Roberson's game, as he was being dared to shoot all game long and when he couldn't hit anything, got pulled early. The Magic game was the opposite, where he finally got back to getting the ball to the rim and finishing. He even hit two 3-pointers!
STEVEN ADAMS Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 19.7 4.3 4.0 1.3 0.7 0.3 1.0 -5.7
JUAN
grade_C
This was a bit of a tough week for Steven Adams. He gets Dwight Howard to start it off, then he gets a team that doesn't have a legitimate center, and then the Thunder start blowing out the Magic. I would've liked to see some more of Adams vs. Vucevic, but considering that Adams had 5 fouls in 17 minutes, we probably wouldn't have seen much more.
SHERMAN
grade_Cplus
I'd like to grade Adams higher, because I really like what I'm seeing from the 2nd year center in terms of how he starts off games. The Thunder are actually running the offense through him in the high post, and he's rewarding them with some great passing and rolls to the rim. However, it seems like after a few token possessions we never see it again, and it limits Adams' overall effectiveness.

REGGIE JACKSON Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 21.3 12.7 4.3 3.0 0.3 0.3 1.0 +10.3
JUAN
grade_Bplus
I was pleased with Reggie Jackson's performance this week. He was one of the few bright spots in that Houston loss and he's starting to play better. He has half a season to show every NBA team that he deserves to be paid this off-season, and that's a great thing for the Thunder.
SHERMAN
grade_Bplus
The NBA is a game of maximizing comparative advantages. Jackson's comparative advantages over most 2nd unit PG's is NOT his 3-point shooting. Why then does he take so many? Instead, his strengths lie in getting the ball into the lane and finishing. More of the latter and less of the former, please.
JEREMY LAMB Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 3.3 3.7 1.3 0.3 0.0 0.3 0.3 +0.7
JUAN
grade_C
Jeremy Lamb was on the verge of being the central point on a Brook Lopez trade (I swear), but that didn't happen. Him stepping on the court didn't really happen much, either.
SHERMAN
grade_C
Lamb seems to see the writing on the wall, because boy is he getting some shots up quickly in garbage time. Too bad I think, because I still believe he could be an effective tertiary 3-point shooter behind Morrow.

KENDRICK PERKINS Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 16.0 5.7 5.3 1.0 0.0 0.7 2.0 +9.0
JUAN
grade_B
Kendrick Perkins needed one more rebound to lock up a double-double against the Magic, so that's an accomplishment all in it's own. He also played some pretty solid minutes in the Rockets loss, and he cheered really loudly against the center-less Warriors. What an adventurous week for Perk.
SHERMAN
grade_A
I'm giving Perk a good grade this week because he responded like a professional should after hearing his name being floated in trade rumors. He also pulled off this nifty move, which I'm sure Perk dreams about making in his sleep every night of the week.

NICK COLLISON Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 2 9.0 3.0 1.5 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 -2.0
JUAN
grade_C
Nick Collison got a DNP-CD against the Warriors so i fully expect him to drop in 25 points in one of the coming games because he's Nick Collison and that's what he does.
SHERMAN
grade_C
Collison's effectiveness on the court is going to be in very limited capacity, so I'm really just hoping I continue to see Adams playing Collison's role in the high post, because that will be good evidence that Nick's imprints are still on the Thunder. Now he just needs to teach Funaki how to draw a charge.

PERRY JONES III Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 3.3 0.7 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 +0.7
JUAN
grade_C
Perry Jones was dropping 30 when the Thunder had like 6 healthy bodies at the beginning of the season. Now, he's only playing when the Thunder are either up or down 20. Life comes at you fast, Perry.
SHERMAN
grade_C
I have no idea what to make of this guy. He should be the one doing all of these Waiters things that we're seeing.

ANTHONY MORROW Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 22.0 5.3 2.0 0.3 0.0 1.0 0.3 +10.3
JUAN
grade_C
Anthony Morrow had 2 terrible shooting games this week, but he had a nice one against the Warriors. Shooters, shoot. And that's definitely what Morrow will continue to do.
SHERMAN
grade_Cminus
Morrow isn't shooting well, but I am still convinced that it is because OKC is not a good 3-point shooting offense. They're still learning how to open holes for good shooters. If this offensive transition is any indication, those holes are about to open (witness how many open looks Ibaka has gotten) and Morrow's percentages should rise.

ISH SMITH Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 3.3 0.0 1.0 1.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 +0.7
JUAN
grade_C
Ish Smith is another guy that was getting valuable minutes early on but is now hoping for blowouts so he can get some playing time. I'm sure that's that Ish he doesn't like.
SHERMAN
grade_C
That is sufficient Ish Smith time for me, thanks.

DION WAITERS Games Played MIN PPG REB AST BL ST TO +/-
(Average Stats) 3 29.7 17.7 2.0 2.0 1.0 1.7 1.7 +11.0
JUAN
grade_A
When the Thunder acquired Dion Waiters, there was concerns. A lot of them. Waiters was a bit out of control - but so was the entire team - against Houston, but had to really good games against the Warriors and Magic. Waiters seems to be enjoying himself playing for the Thunder. After all, people working in Cleveland are the unhappiest people in the country, according to Forbes. We got you, Dion.
SHERMAN
grade_Aminus
And here we have "Burgerfeet." Truth be told, I'm not loving all of the shots he is taking, because eventually those will turn into bad misses. However, I am good with his overall effort because he's playing aggressively on both ends of the court and is the kind of player that thrives off the bench. If his instant offense isn't there, just sit him down again and look elsewhere. What has really surprised me though is his fan club. They see something in him that is, I don't know, intangible? Either way, he's fitting in well and my goodness he's light years better than Derek Fisher.

Thunder_medium

TEAM GRADE Record OffRtg DefRtg AstRatio REB% TS% PACE +/-
(Advanced Stats) 2-1 114.2 105.0 18.7 56.3% 60.0% 103.6 +9.7
JUAN
grade_Aminus
One loss to Houston and two wins against the Warriors and Magic equals to a pretty good week for the Thunder, in my opinion. They took care of the best team in basketball right now and then they pummeled a less-skilled team in the Magic. That's what good basketball teams do. The Thunder are back at .500 and after everything, they could be over .500 at the halfway point with a win against the Heat on Tuesday.
SHERMAN
grade_A
It is pretty tough to overlook the Rockets debacle, but if it is possible, the Warriors and Magic wins will do it, and if the Rockets loss is what it took for the Thunder to wake up, it may be the most important loss of this season. Too bad OKC doesn't play them again until April, but my guess is that this late season game will have serious playoff implications.

SCOTT BROOKS Coaching Grade
JUAN
grade_Aminus
When you win, everything is good. And the Thunder won 2 games this week, so that's good. Scott Brooks should get credit in trusting Dion Waiters. Waiters has been talking about how great he feels now that he's playing free, and the coaching staff should get some of that credit. Brooks isn't the best coach, but he does defend his players fiercely, and I think that's exactly what this group needs.
SHERMAN
grade_Bplus
There will always be room to quibble, but the 3 quarters that stand out to me most are the 4th quarter against the Warriors and the first two against the Magic. If a coach can get his talented team to play like that, even for short stretches, it distances OKC from almost every other team in the league. Now, let's see if he can work some magic and get Jackson back to his dominant ways.

*All player images via www.usatodaysportsimages.com