Oklahoma City Thunder Stat Brief: Thunder/Suns (2/10/13)

Yes, the Thunder have a terrible rebounding and turnover percentage. But does that matter if they shoot well?

For the second time in three nights and the fourth time this year, the Thunder will take on the Suns tonight. It is also the final meeting between these two this year and after a 31 point beat down by Oklahoma City on Friday, most Phoenix fans are probably thankful for that.

Will Rebounding Follow the Turnover Trend?

In their last three games (all wins), the Thunder have compiled turnover percentages of 10.0 percent, 10.4 percent and 7.8 percent. For a club that still ranks 28th in turnover percentage this is great news. But there is still work that the team can do to improve, particularly on the offensive glass.

The Thunder shoot so well that they are not going to have as many chances at offensive rebounds as a lot of teams. Offensive rebounding percentage accounts for that by calculating the number of available offensive boards that a team secures. The league average ORB percentage is 26.8 percent. The Thunder are right under that with a season average of 26.7 percent, but they are also struggling more of late, having eclipsed their own average only once in the last eight games.

Nitpicking or Legitimate Concern?

It might seem hypercritical to single out Oklahoma City’s propensity to get sloppy with the ball or failure to corral offensive boards when the team is still winning. After all, the Thunder have been below average in both of these areas all year and yet still have the second-best record in the Western Conference. All year, I have been pointing out that as long as the Thunder shoot with an effective field goal percentage that is one of the best in the league (currently third at .530) and defend shots as well as anyone (also third with an eFG% of .474 allowed) they do not need to be spectacular in other categories.

But what happens if they have a couple of off nights in a row? Last year the Thunder rode the exact same strengths to the Finals, shot well below their season average against a tough Miami defense and lost four consecutive games with the Heat outrebounding them in every one. Yes, this year’s team is shooting even better than last year’s team but they are also rebounding worse.

All of this is why it is critical for the Thunder to keep trending in the right direction in the turnover column and to figure out a way to rebound better. We know this team is one of the best in the NBA as it is. But the quest to become the best of the best would be made easier by strengthening some weaknesses.