Oklahoma City Thunder Stat Monkey Brief: Thunder/Lakers (12/7/12)

Rebounds have been hard to come by for OKC, but it hasn't hurt them in the win column quite yet.

If you're looking for the Lakers perspective on this game, check out Andrew Sugar's piece here: Los Angeles Lakers Stat Brief

Ah, Thunder versus Lakers. Before the season, this looked like it would be the series of the regular season. It is still an intriguing matchup, but you would never know it by the records. Nonetheless, with all of the talent on the floor, this game could still be a great fight.

The elusive rebound

With all of the talent that the Thunder have, one has to wonder at what point the team will figure out how to rebound better. The team's offensive rebounding percentage has fallen from 11th in the NBA last season to 20th this season. Oklahoma City's defensive rebounding percentage has inched up from 72.1 percent last season to 72.3 percent during this campaign, but it's a small improvement that has left them in the bottom half of the rankings.

True, these struggles have not hurt the Thunder as of late in the win column, but the Nets dominated the boards and came as close to handing Oklahoma City a loss as any team during the win streak. Now the Thunder have to face a Lakers squad that is even better at crashing the glass, ranking in the top ten in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.

Signs of progress

One solution to the Thunder's rebounding struggles? More Hasheem Thabeet. Yes, there is a strain sarcasm to that comment, but not as much as there used to be. Thabeet is putting together a much better season than many people realize. Throughout his career, he has often been a decent rebounder, so it is only mildly surprising to see him as one of the best Thunder players on the boards.

Among Oklahoma City players with more than 200 minutes, he has the best offensive rebounding percentage and the second highest defensive rebounding percentage. Among those same players, he also has the highest effective field goal percentage with a mark of .720. He also has the second highest steal and block percentages on the team. So far, none of that has been enough to counter his putrid 30.5 turnover percentage and earn him more minutes. But in limited time, Thabeet has looked more like a valuable NBA player than in any previous season. Stay tuned to find out if his development can continue.

We know it is a star studded cast (and no, I'm not including Thabeet in that assessment) that will take center stage tonight. Whether the performance lives up to the predictions remains to be seen.