Oklahoma City Thunder Stat Monkey Brief: Thunder/Jazz (11/30/12)
For Oklahoma City and Utah, tonight is the first of four showdowns this season. The Thunder are pulling away in the Northwest, but after a rough start, the Jazz have won five of six to rise to second place in the division.
The Dichotomy of Utah's Rebounding
Utah has two of the better rebounders in basketball. Derrick Favors has a total rebounding percentage of 18.7, while Al Jefferson sits at 18.5, ranking the two big men eighth and ninth respectively in overall rebounding in the NBA. Throw in a solid total rebounding percentage of 15.6 for Paul Millsap, and it is hardly surprising to see the Jazz with the second best offensive rebounding percentage in the game at 31.6.
It is mildly shocking, however, to see their defensive rebounding percentage sits at only 72.1, ranking them 21st in the game. While the Thunder have not been great on the offensive boards all year, ranking 21st in offensive rebounding percentage, they might actually have a chance to hang with Utah tonight in that category. The Jazz might crash the offensive glass, but if they cannot stop the Thunder from doing the same, there could be a lot of second chance points tonight.
The Best getting Better
One of the scariest things for opposing NBA franchises to watch this year has to be Kevin Durant's stat line. While the NBA's three time scoring leader is averaging his fewest points per game since the 2008-2009 season, he has become a much more efficient player all around. Durant is currently on pace to set career highs in true shooting percentage, effective field goal percentage, steal percentage and block percentage. The most impressive improvements, however, have come on the glass and in assists. Durant's total rebounding percentage of 13.7 is easily the best of his career. His assist percentage of 20.8 is also blowing all of his past seasons out of the water. Yes, the Thunder are only about a fifth of the way through the regular season, but it still bears mentioning that the player widely regarded as the second best in the NBA is on pace for his best all around season.
Durant and company have been a buzz-saw in their last two games. Utah has been hot as of late as well, but will that be enough to overcome the Thunder in Oklahoma City?