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The week in review: Takeaways from the Oklahoma City Thunder

Thunder struggled against Eastern Conference opponents on a long road trip

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

12 days ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder were riding a four game winning streak. They had beaten good teams like the Clippers and there was cause for optimism within the team’s play. However, the hot streak ended and the Thunder lost four straight.

The Thunder are in the middle of a seven game slate against Eastern Conference teams. OKC have dropped four of the six games played so far. The Atlantic swing concludes in DC on Wednesday night.

While they have struggled to win games, Oklahoma City have been entertaining to watch. Despite being a bottom five three point shooting team, the Thunder score with ease. Currently they score 115.8 points per game, which ranks ninth in the NBA and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is leading the charge offensively.

The young star is solidifying himself as a superstar with the breakout year he is having. He is elevating offensively and defensively. Gilgeous-Alexander’s two steals per game ranks fourth in the NBA.

When it comes to Gilgeous-Alexander the question should not be will he finally be an All-Star but what All-NBA team will he be a member of?

Room for improvement

As mentioned earlier, the Thunder have been very entertaining over the past week. OKC have been in high scoring affairs on a nightly basis. The Thunder have dropped from 4th in defensive rating to 13th. Over their last sixth games, Oklahoma City have allowed 121 points per game.

In comparison, the Golden State Warriors allow 119 points per game which is last in the league.

A main reason for the defensive drop-off is the Thunder’s inability to defend without fouling. Opponents average 25 free throw attempts per game against Oklahoma City which is bottom five in the NBA when it comes to free throws attempted by an opponent.

Another reason for the Thunder’s struggles is the lack of a consistent number two scoring option. Tre Mann scored 21 points in their double overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks but this was the only time someone scored 20+ besides Gilgeous-Alexander during the losing streak.

Amidst the struggles there were some breakout performances. Josh Giddey had a triple double in a win against the New York Knicks. He posted an impressive stat line of 24 points, 12 assists and ten rebounds.

The biggest surprise of the week came in the Thunder’s win against the Toronto Raptors. Eugene Omoruyi, who os on a two-way contract, scored 22 points off the bench. He was efficient as well shooting 80% from three and 83% from three.

Whether it is the bench unit or someone like Giddey emerging, Oklahoma City needs a second offensive option moving forward.