Despite Oklahoma City’s loss to the Denver Nuggets last night, the Thunder have been rolling lately. Coming into Thursday night's matchup, Oklahoma City was on a four game winning streak.
During the win streak, they defeated title contenders in the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks, along with a victory over the Orlando Magic. These wins helped the Thunder bounce back from an 0-3 start to the season. The catalyst for Oklahoma City thus far has been their franchise player, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
While the star point guard has been impressive in years gone by, he has taken his game to a new level. Gilgeous-Alexander is currently averaging a career high 31.5 points per game and 6.8 assists per game.
This includes 38, 34 and 37 points in the Thunder’s last three outings. Gilgeous-Alexander is currently the fourth leading scorer in the NBA. SGA is filling it up effortlessly every single night and his efficient scoring is helping the Thunder to victory.
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Another player making a positive impact early in the season is Tre Mann. The second year guard out of Florida has received more playing time this season and is taking advantage of the opportunity.
Mann is averaging 13 points per game primarily off the bench and is a productive backup point guard to Josh Giddey.
Although, the last week of play has shown that there are still areas of concerns for the Thunder. Mann did not score all that efficiently and seemed to have difficulty against larger opponents.
Troubles from the previous season seemed to have followed the Thunder into the new year. On the offensive end, Oklahoma City still is not shooting well from three. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is the only member of the Thunder’s rotation that is shooting 40% from deep.
Darius Bazley is second in 3-point percentage at 36%. As a collective, Oklahoma City shoots 29.5% from three which ranks 29th in the NBA. The only team who have shot worse is the Los Angeles Lakers and their shooting woes have been well-documented nationally
These struggles from the perimeter are nothing new as the Thunder were last in three point percentage last season. Oklahoma City must improve their outside shooting to better space the floor and open up driving lanes to the hoop.
On the defensive side, the Thunder have improved hugely. They are just outside the top ten in points allowed per game. Also, Oklahoma City currently ranks fourth in defensive efficiency. The defense is humming and is keeping the Thunder competitive in tight games.
Overall, the Thunder have made some strides over the past week but will need to improve in order start a new win streak after their loss to Denver last night.