Note: This was written prior to the outcome of the OKC-Portland game
Last season, the Oklahoma City Thunder underachieved on high pre-season expectations by winning only 49 games. A large portion of the blame was placed on Carmelo Anthony many believed to be an anchor on the team’s effectiveness. When he was replaced with Dennis Schroder during the offseason, expectations again soared.
Despite the changes, the Thunder still sit 9 wins away from scoring the same record with only 17 games — and against the upper echelon of teams — remaining in the season. Even the most steadfast sunshine-pumpers have been robbed of their optimism.
Today, it’s Bobby’s job to re-instill that optimism, while Dom tries to break you even further. Our question for debate is:
Will the Thunder finish the upcoming 17 games above .500, or will they see no improvements from a disappointing previous season?
Dom: Eeyore was a Pollyanna optimist; I’m a realist
I’ll admit it, at the All-Star break this team had me fooled. Sitting at 3rd in the Western Conference, even off an excusable loss to New Orleans, considering at the time the Thunder were playing well, it could be said they were looking forward to the break, 50 wins seemed pretty likely even to me.
Now? Getting to last year’s total would surprise me greatly. Suffice to say the games since the break have been, well....
Actually that’s not fair....really they’ve been more....
Oh honestly that’s even generous.
That’s more like it.
The Thunder (as of before the Blazers game on March 7th) have now got the hardest schedule remaining in the West per Tankathon.com, and 2nd hardest in the NBA.
Meanwhile, since the break, they’ve posted the 27th best net rating in the NBA, ahead of only the Knicks, Lakers, and Mavericks. They’ve managed the 17th best defense and 26th rated offense, and now have the tough part of the schedule coming up.
Per 538’s projections they’re projected to win 50 games and per basketball-reference.com just under 49 (48.9). These projections however take into account the level these teams have played at earlier in the season as well when OKC was playing...well not terribly and they looked healthy. With what looks like a hobbled Steven Adams and who knows what Paul George is right now, there’s obviously not that same strength.
The Thunder posted incredible 3 point shooting during their hot streak that seemed bound to cool off, at least somewhat, from some of the players. The issue is they’ve all cooled off simultaneously and the defense has fallen to pieces as well. Their remaining 17 games, if I were to predict them as of now:
- @ LAC (back to back): I’m pegging a loss on tired legs here following OKC’s OT win over Portland
- @ Utah: They’re just as desperate and playing better, though I could see this going either way
- vs Brooklyn: Playing well but I’ll say a win for the Thunder here
- @ Indiana: Also playing remarkably well without Oladipo, and a back to back... loss
- vs GSW: lol
- vs Miami: Going to win here, they’ve been shaky. Just don’t let Wade touch the ball with the game on the line.
- vs Toronto: lol
- @ Toronto: lmao
- @ Memphis: Memphis doesn’t want to win, so sure, win OKC
- vs Indiana: Back at home I think they can beat one good team, another win
- vs Denver: Nope
- vs Dallas: They don’t want to win either — win for OKC
- vs LAL: At this point I don’t think the Lakers will want to win much either and I’m not sure how much Lebron plays, little streak here with a win
- vs Detroit: Think they can manage another win here, 3 straight
- @ Minnesota: Oh no not Wiggins
- vs Houston: Nope again
- @ Milwaukee: The Bucks might sit guys with the 1 seed locked up, if so OKC can take it, if not nope so I’ll say this is a maybe
That’s giving me 7-9 wins at most and 9-11 losses. I’d tend to lean to the middle of that so go 8-10 leaving OKC with a 47 win season. Granted the West may be better this year, but after the start they had, it would be a somewhat disappointing result and I’d guess the 6 seed and a first round loss to Houston as the 3 seed.
New year, same result.
Bobby: Ned Flanders is a gloomy goat compared to my confidence in OKC
I’m not going to talk about records. I’m not going to talk about the remaining schedule. I’m not even going to bring up statistics. Because let’s be entirely honest with ourselves: those things haven’t matter with this Thunder team this season.
This entire season has been a story of the Thunder establishing an identity and seeing the results thereof, and then totally breaking to become the antithesis of that previous team. When expectations are set, high or low, the ensuing result is a total break from those expectations.
With that in mind, it’s quite clear where expectations are for this Thunder team. After a slew of losses (with a win that felt like a loss mixed in), pessimism is rampant. And if you asked the average Thunder fan how many games would be won from here on out, it would probably be a number less than 10.
Which is why I feel confident in saying this Thunder team will win 10 or more games the rest of this season. Not because it’s rational, or because I have some hidden stat or justification to make me believe. But because it is the complete opposite, the irrational, unexplainable, incomprehensible result that we have seen all season with this team.
In truest Second-Law form, this team will not — cannot — maintain its current dive.
So be optimistic Thunder fans! We won last night, didn’t we?
More wins are on the way!
Will the Thunder win 10 or more games the rest of this season?
This poll is closed
Less than 10
More than 10