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Oklahoma City Thunder: From early season strugglers to Playoffs Contenders

Oklahoma City Thunder has enjoyed a decent season so far. Despite losing their star man, Russell Westbrook, and a host of other influential players in last summer’s trade, Oklahoma City Thunder has managed to maintain a well-balanced team that has produced good performances despite struggling at the start of the season. Oklahoma City Thunder’s impressive 2018-2019 season ended on a disappointing note after losing to the Portland Trail Blazers in last season’s playoffs first round. However, Oklahoma City Thunder is once again involved in a battle to make the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season if the season resumes anytime soon. The one-time NBA Champions will also be looking to progress beyond the first round this season. Oklahoma City Thunder has not advanced past the first round since making it to the Western Conference finals in the 2015-2016 season, where they eventually lost to the Golden State Warriors. At the moment, Oklahoma City occupies the fifth position of the Western Conference and third position of the Northwest Division. For Oklahoma City Thunder, this season’s successes represent how far the team has evolved since the start of the season.

As such, we take a look at Oklahoma City Thunder’s season so far and some of the influential players behind their successes this season.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder’s season so far

Oklahoma City Thunder headed into the new season with wholesale of changes in and out of the team. The most significant changes for the Thunder were the exits of influential figures Russell Westbrook and Paul George to Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers, respectively. Westbrook and George’s departures created a big vacuum in the Oklahoma City Thunder team. As such, Coach Billy Donovan brought in Chris Paul from Houston Rockets in exchange for Russell Westbrook.

Oklahoma City Thunder began the new season on a wrong note, losing their opening two games to Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards. Two more defeats in their next three games against Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers meant Oklahoma City Thunder had collected just a single win in the first five games of the season, giving them a 1-4 win-loss record. The sole victory came in a home game against the Golden State Warriors (120-92) in their third game of the season. For Oklahoma City Thunder, this was not the ideal start to the season that they had envisioned. It was clear the task ahead was much more significant, and things had to change.

Oklahoma City Thunder would go on to claim three wins from the next six games, including a second consecutive win over Golden State Warriors. However, the team was still struggling to maintain a consistent winning run as they went on to claim just two wins in the next six games. The second win in that run came against the Golden State Warriors once again in both teams’ third encounter of the season.

Afterward, Oklahoma City Thunder began finding consistent form, recording five wins and a single defeat in the next six games. The only loss came against Indiana Pacers. Two defeats followed before the Thunder went on a four-game winning run, which included a win over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Thunder’s winning run came to an end in a 100-97 loss at home to Memphis Grizzlies. However, Oklahoma City Thunder shook off the setback to claim two consecutive wins in the last two games of 2019. At the end of 2019, the Thunder had a 17-15 win-loss record.

Oklahoma City Thunder began the New Year with three straight wins over Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers. The team would go on to record three victories and four defeats in the next seven games to ensure the Thunder began 2020 with six wins from 10 games.

Since then, Oklahoma City Thunder has recorded 17 wins and five defeats from the last 22 games. During that run, Oklahoma City Thunder claimed massive victories over Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, and Boston Celtics.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder’s influential players this season

This season has seen Oklahoma City move from the team that depended solely on Russell Westbrook for massive results. This season, Oklahoma City Thunder has achieved success from the collective contributions of several players on the team’s roster. Summer acquisitions Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chris Paul, and Danilo Gallinari have all proved their worth this season since their arrivals. Since joining from Los Angeles Clippers, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been a key figure in almost every game he has featured so far this season. Shooting Guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has averaged 19.3 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game, and 3.3 assists per game in 63 appearances this season. In all, he has recorded 1,216 points 384 rebounds and 208 assists.

Point Guard Chris Paul has also averaged 17.7 points per game, 4.9 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game in 63 appearances this season.

Forward Danilo Gallinari has also averaged 19.2 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game, and 2.1 assists per game.

Apart from these three summer acquisitions, other players on the roster have also stepped up on multiple occasions. Some of these players include Point Guard Dennis Schroder and Center Steven Adams.

Dennis Schroder has averaged 19.0 points per game, 3.7 rebounds per game and 4.1 assists per game in 63 games so far. He has only started just once this season.

Center Steven Adams has also averaged 10.9 points per game, 9.4 rebounds per game and 2.4 assists per game.

What’s Next for Oklahoma City Thunder?

As it stands, it is unclear when the remainder of the season will resume. However, if the season recommences, Oklahoma City Thunder will have to be at their best to navigate the remaining games to secure playoffs qualification in the postseason. The challenge ahead is not easy considering the tough games Oklahoma City Thunder have. However, with the wealth of talent on the Thunder roster, the team will be favoring their chances to win glory this season.

 

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