The last five games have not gone well for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The team has suffered four defeats, three of those coming by double digits. The other loss came against Denver. In that game, OKC succumbed to the Nuggets’ pressure and lost late in the game.
The start of the season looked as if the Thunder were primed for possible play-in campaign but the team has spiraled to an 8-12 record. We are a quarter of the way through the season and it feels like trouble is brewing ahead.
The good news for the Thunder is that it is still early and they are not anywhere close to being out of the picture for a possible playoff spot. Losing skids happen during the course of a long campaign. However, the Thunder must halt the bleeding before they can think about moving forward past this barren spell.
That is easier said than done when you consider the difficulty of the next few weeks but it is not impossiblel.
One encouraging sign of the Thunder’s growth has been the recent play of Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, the 22-year-old, 6’8 second round selection in the 2022 NBA Draft.Over the last five games, he has averaged 9.8 points on 48.8% shooting in a little over 25 minutes as a role player.
The 31.3% clip from downtown does not reveal the quality long-range shooter he has been since October. JRE has made 80% of free throws and has a positive differential at +8, the only guy in the team who does so while playing at least 20 minutes, as per NBA Stats.
JRE is also second in the team in defensive win shares (0.030) during that span. He has got a +12.5 net rating while providing quality playmaking and rebounding in limited usage. Robinson is adding value to the team on all fronts.
He has not turned the ball over much this season (9.1 TOV%) and is scoring 120.9 points per 100 shot attempts. His 1.7% steals’ percentage ranks in the 87th percentile of bigs in the league as per Cleaning The Glass.
He has not taken a lot of mid-range shots (just 9 in total) but the 56% clip is promising. For the entire season he has gone 22-of-56 from deep (39%). That number is bolstered by non-corner 3-point shooting, but if his corner stats go up (currently at 36%), then there is a good shot he can provide even better scoring numbers.
There are clear areas he can improve on. For starters, his 34-of-56 display at the rim (only 17th percentile for bigs) needs vast improvement if he wants more playing time. He also needs to be craftier with drawing fouls when he does get that close to the bucket.
Robinson-Earl is making positive contributions for the Thunder right and might be a valuable player in getting the team out of a rut.