Through 50 games, the Thunder is four games better than last year’s record.
But is Oklahoma City really better?
Our panel weighs in on that topic in today’s question of the day.
Is the Thunder better or worse than last year?
Worse defensively, better offensively, and better overall because this team knows how to close out games. This team is more clutch than last year, which is a sign of maturity. It’s been clutch after a loss (14-3), which is why its longest losing streak is two. It’s been clutch in division play (8-2). But keep in mind, it was this time last year when the Thunder went on a nine-game winning streak. The Thunder has won three straight and six of eight, but the pressure is now on to keep pace with last year’s victory total.
Thunder is better this year, obviously. On pace for 54 wins, four ahead of a year ago. But the Thunder is not playing defense like it played last season, which is what makes this Thunder edition so maddening. The Thunder has taken a huge step offensively; Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka. The Thunder is tough to stop. If the Boomers could just play defense anywhere close to last season, they would be a Western Conference contender.
The Thunder is better but different. That’s the genesis of all the consternation about this team. Last season, the Thunder won with defense. This season, it is winning despite its defense. Oh, these guys can buckle down and slow teams, but that consistency just isn’t there. Look at some of the first-quarter point totals that the Thunder has allowed of late — 37 vs. Utah, 36 vs. Phoenix, 30 vs. New York. OKC won each of those games. Yep, this team isn’t winning the same way that last year’s team won, but it is still winning at a better clip. Can it be frustrating? Sure. But there’s no question that the Thunder is better than it was a year ago.
Better. Individually, offensively and in crunch time the Thunder has taken a step forward. Those areas of improvement outweigh the current defensive inconsistency. Although it is a little troubling that a team that wants to pride itself on defense can’t consistently defend, wins are still piling up and the Thunder is gaining more confidence.