Oklahoma City is halfway through the season with the best record in the NBA at 32-9. That, of course, could change tonight with a trip to Los Angeles to face a 32-10 Clippers team. It is a tough way to begin the second half of basketball, but if the Thunder look to build off the results of the first 41 games and make a few improvements, they can stay in the driver’s seat. So here is the first half recap, “Dollars Trilogy” style.
The Good the Bad and the Ugly
Oklahoma City scores at furious rate, putting up 106 points per game, best in the game. That is due to a combination of factors, including an effective field goal percentage of .525 and a free throw-to-field goal attempted ration of .293. The Thunder make shots then get to the line and make more shots. As a result, they have been nearly impossible to stop, although the fourth ranked Clippers’ defense will certainly try to prove otherwise tonight.
As far as the bad and ugly, there really is not a whole lot to complain about. A woeful turnover percentage of 14.8 percent stands out as the one sore spot. The Thunder could use an improvement on the boards too, as they currently rank 15th in both offensive rebounding percentage (27.5 percent) and defensive rebounding percentage (73.1 percent).
A Fistful of Dollars
In August of last year, Serge Ibaka signed a nice new contract with Oklahoma City. He has responded with a tremendous performance. Already one of the best interior defenders in the game (and he still is with 110 blocks) Ibaka is averaging 14 points per game and shooting with an eFG percentage of .569, both career highs. That first half improvement was why he merited the big payday.
For a Few Dollars More
A couple of young Thunder backups have had the chance this year to prove that they deserve to get a payday of their own in the future and have failed to capitalize. Eric Maynor and Reggie Jackson are the only other point guards on the roster behind Russell Westbrook, and the idea of either of them having to run the offense for an extended period should terrify Oklahoma City fans.
Maynor has a turnover percentage of 20.3 percent, while Jackson’s is 17.8 percent. Jackson at least makes up for it by being a decent shooter, with an eFG percentage of .465, but Maynor cannot buy a bucket, with an eFG percentage of .361, dead last on the roster.
The trip to Los Angeles marks a tough stretch of road games for Oklahoma City. How they handle these upcoming games could be an indicator of whether or not the Thunder will finish with a second half record as good as the first half mark.