NBA power rankings roundup: Thunder see some downward, some upward movement

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Logan Newman
·4 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

On the back of consecutive awful losses, the Oklahoma City Thunder dropped in three of the five national power rankings we aggregate each week.

The Thunder’s week was salvaged by the win over the Toronto Raptors, but with a 21-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks to start the week and then a 37-point defeat to the Phoenix Suns and a 48-point beatdown by the Portland Trail Blazers to end it, there weren’t many positives for the Thunder. (The five power rankings were published before the loss to the Detroit Pistons on Monday).

Well, if there was one positive, Oklahoma City slipped down the standings and closer to better lottery odds.

Here are the outlets’ power rankings.

ESPN: 24th (down 1)

The losses to the Suns and Blazers were on the top of ESPN reporter Royce Young's mind. Even with the diminished roster, they had been surprisingly competitive up until this point.

"They had been winning in spite of their available roster, with injuries and other considerations reducing them down to a glorified G League roster. And as they position for a high lottery pick in the stretch run of the schedule, they might be hitting their stride"

"Might be hitting their stride" is certainly one way to look at it. And it's not necessarily the incorrect way, either.

The Athletic: 28th (down 4)

The Athletic's Zach Harper has consistently been lower on the Thunder than the rest of the power rankers in this segment, and he was quick to push them down to 28 on the heels of these losses.

"Granted, they beat the Raptors, and that was good. But the Thunder continue to slide down the standings, which is what they should be doing."

He did shine impressive light on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, though.

"(T)he reason their record is more respectable than their net rating might lead you to believe is because Gilgeous-Alexander doesn’t let them lose in the clutch. The Thunder are 11-4 in the 15 games he’s played this season that trigger clutch situations."

The three losses last week did not come down to clutch time in any way whatsoever, so even SGA may not have been able to prevent these.

NBA.com: 25th (down 2)

NBA.com analyst John Schuhmann has mentioned Kenrich Williams in quite a few of his weekly power rankings, and he slipped him in again to this week's list.

"Amazingly, the Thunder were only outscored by eight points in Kenrich Williams’ 69 minutes on the floor over those three losses, getting rolled, 229-131 (that’s a -98), in his 131 minutes on the bench."

That's ridiculous, but with an ankle sprain against the Pistons, the Thunder may not even be able to rely on his minutes over the next few games.

Bleacher Report: 23rd (no change)

Bleacher Report's Mo Dakhil overlooked the bad losses and kept the Thunder at their No. 23 spot from last week. He wrote that head coach Mark Daigneault deserves credit -- and Dakhil's not the only one saying so -- and mentioned the Moses Brown contract.

"If anyone is doing a case studying on teams in the NBA trying to tank, they should leave out the 2020-21 Thunder. They are winning games despite shutting down Al Horford for the season, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander missing games with plantar fasciitis and Luguentz Dort in concussion protocols."

With the injury list growing longer, though, they've started to lose more games, and it's a trend that might continue.

CBS Sports: 24th (up 1)

Oklahoma City actually moved up a spot in the power rankings of CBS Sports reporter Colin Ward-Henninger. The Thunder moved up ahead of the Raptors (who they beat) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (who also were blown out three times). The Orlando Magic moved ahead of OKC. Ward-Henninger was the only one of these five power rankers to mention rookies Aleksej Pokusevski and Theo Maledon, who largely played well last week.

"(T)he goal for this team is clearly to secure as many lottery balls as possible while developing young players like Aleksej Pokusevski and Theo Maledon, who each averaged 16.3 points per game this week."

Whether by choice or by injury -- or by both -- the Thunder have found the youngsters time in the starting unit.

1

1