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The week in review: Takeaways from an inconsistent stretch of Thunder basketball

A look into how early season lapses have plagued the Oklahoma City Thunder

NBA: New York Knicks at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Every single week, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander raises his game and impresses the whole world. He is now finally getting the recognition for his brilliance; the most underrated star in the league is now shining bright on a national stage.

High praises for Oklahoma City’s franchise player started after their win against the Washington Wizards. Gilgeous-Alexander tied a career high with 42 points, while also making a game winning three pointer.

In previous weekly reviews, we have said the conversations surrounding GIlgeous-Alexander should center around him being an all-star starter or a member of the All-NBA team.

However, the national discussion has shifted to whether Gilgeous-Alexander is a top-five guard. Kevin Pelton of ESPN had Shai at #4 in his quarter season MVP ballot ahead of Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Another discussion rumbling nationally is whether the Thunder won the Paul George trade. The conversation is no longer about the mountain of draft picks owned by the Thunder; Gilgeous-Alexander is playing at a higher level than Paul George. He might already be a better player at a younger age, 24 years old.

While we could discuss the Thunder’s star even more, it would be wise to focus on the team as a whole.

Defensive Inconsistency:

Defense has been Oklahoma City’s issue all season thus far. In fact, the Thunder have only held a team under 100 points once for the entire season.

This past week alone, all of the Thunder’s opponents have scored over 120 points. Overall, Oklahoma City allow 117 points per game which is fourth worst in the NBA.

Part of the problem is the Thunder are having issues closing out defensive possessions. The Thunder’s lack of size is making it difficult to secure the ball. OKC rank last in opponents’ rebounds and allow 12 offensive rebounds per game.

Some of the Thunder’s woes could be attributed to not having Chet Holmgren in the starting lineup. The #2 overall pick, has shared on social media how he misses doing what he loves.

If the Thunder want to start winning consistently, they need to improve defensively. Oklahoma City are one of the best offenses in the league and the team is red-hot right now. The less glamorous end of the floor is where gains must be made.

The Thunder’s offensive proficiency is a surprise, OKC ranked last in points per game just a season ago. A gradual improvement in their defensive performance mixed with a high octane offense, could have Oklahoma City fighting for position in a tough Western Conference.