Thunder stat check: What the numbers say about the lead-up to OKC-Boston

Thunder stat check: What the numbers say about the lead-up to OKC-Boston

The Thunder went 9-2 in its last 11 games. What the numbers say about that stretch of play and how they make OKC’s play seem more impressive.

Jon Hamm

By Jon Hamm

| Jan 2, 2024, 6:00am CST

Jon Hamm

By Jon Hamm

Jan 2, 2024, 6:00am CST

The Thunder enters Tuesday night’s game against Boston with a 22-9 record. Just as I did after 10 games and again after 20 games, let’s do another 10-game check-in on some key Thunder stats.

Because OKC’s 30th game landed right before a holiday weekend, this will be a look at the Thunder’s previous 11 games. Apologies to Thunder fans who love round numbers.

Offensive/defensive/net ratings

As a reminder, offensive and defensive ratings measure points scored or allowed per 100 possessions. Net rating is the difference between the two numbers. The bigger the net rating, the more dominant the team.

In its first 10 games, OKC posted a net rating of +1.7. The next batch of 10 games produced a net rating of +13.6 thanks to lopsided results against the Spurs, Trailblazers, and Lakers. Over the last 11 games, the Thunder posted a net rating of +10.5. OKC continues to rank with Boston and Philadelphia among the league’s best in this category.

Unsurprisingly, the Thunder logged the fourth-best offense at 122.0 and third-best defense at 111.5 over that stretch. Garth Brooks would agree that the Thunder is rolling.

Strength of schedule

OKC faced formidable opponents in its last 11 games. Two road games in Denver. A road trip to Sacramento. Home games against Golden State, both LA teams, Minnesota and New York. The only softies in that batch were the floundering Utah Jazz and the Ja Morant-less Memphis Grizzlies.

OKC has played the NBA’s eighth-toughest schedule, according to Basketball Reference’s Strength of Schedule formula. Tankathon.com — a site many Thunder fans became familiar with for all of two seasons — OKC has the seventh easiest schedule the rest of the way.

But don’t charge into Twitter with these stats and start arguments. There is context to consider, as usual. OKC has faced several foes that were missing at least one key player. Denver without Aaron Gordon. The Clippers without Kawhi Leonard. New York without Mitchell Robinson. Dallas without Kyrie Irving.

But that’s life in the NBA. OKC lost a close game earlier this season without an injured Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Thunder faced the Sixers without Jalen Williams. Regardless of who they have faced and who has been available, OKC has brought it. Can’t accuse them of playing down to the competition even once so far.

Three-point shooting

The Thunder leads the league in three-point shooting percentage this season at 39.1%. That’s a stat that still takes some getting used to, like getting a stronger eye prescription.

OKC’s shooting from deep dipped slightly to 38.2% over the last 11 games. But that was only the 12th-best mark over that stretch. Among the teams ahead of the Thunder: the Nuggets, Timberwolves, Clippers, and Lakers. Do those teams sound familiar?

Rebounding

The Thunder is still not a good rebounding team. For the season, OKC remains the second-worst defensive rebounding team by percentage. The same holds for offensive rebounding percentage, but that’s not super important to a team that shoots as well as the Thunder do. 

OKC’s defensive rebounding percentage rose to 69.3% over the last 11 games. That’s an improvement from the 67.6% rate for the season, but not much. For those still worked up about this stat, the Thunder have ranked around league average over the last 5 games or so.

It bears another mention: the Thunder is built to excel in other areas defensively. The rebounding numbers may not be pretty, but it’s not exactly holding the team back so far.

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