I feel like I should get some extra points with the double alliteration in the title, but I digress.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are on a five-game winning streak, are currently 1st in the NBA in scoring at 105.1 points/game and have a five-game lead atop the Northwest division. Life is good in the 405, and things seem to be getting even better with the evolution of the Thunder offense.
Here's my Three Thunder Thoughts on Tuesday, which starts off with a reference to a great Juicy J song.
OKC Dropping Dimes A Make Her Dance: I'm not sure if you all have noticed, but the Thunder are out here distributing the rock! You know, sharing the ball, looking for others, playing selflessly? Its one of those things that you can feel when watching the team play, but its even better that the stats back it up. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant's assists numbers are up, and J.A. Sherman from Welcome to Loud City recaps this quite nicely:
The Thunder offense has a new look this year. Forced to abandon the iso-heavy offense that carried the day a year ago, the Thunder have made great strides in executing actual offensive sets with intelligent playmaking, and the transition is beginning to take hold on a regular basis. The Thunder have run off five consecutive wins (3 against potential playoff teams) by an average winning margin of 22 points. What has made these wins satisfying is that in a way, the Thunder are still learning to play consistent offensive basketball, but because of the way they are learning to play, their offensive talent is better leveraged even when they play a good defensive team like the 76ers. The result is that the Thunder offense is improving and better yet, the team passing is one the rise. OKC is now 7th in the league at 22.7 assists per game, whereas in the past they had been almost always dead last.
Moral Victories Are For Minor League Coaches: Perry Jones III and Jeremy Lamb are going to be contributors on the Oklahoma City Thunder one day. I'm not sure if its going to be during the 2012-13 season or not, but the way the current roster is setup the opportunity to get game-action is few and far between. Such is life for young rookies on a championship contender. Royce Young of Daily Thunder outlines the rooks taking a demotion and making a trip up I-44 to Tulsa to get some burn.
The Thunder announced that Perry Jones III has been assigned to the Tulsa 66ers. Jones joins Daniel Orton and Jeremy Lamb in Tulsa. DeAndre Liggins, who was with the 66ers, was recently called up to the Thunder. More than likely it'll be a bit of a revolving door for those four players all bouncing up and down between Tulsa and the Thunder. Same as for Lamb, this just gives Jones a chance to play, something he wasn't getting with the Thunder.
Random thought here. I'm not sure if it'll be this year, but by next year I truly believe you're going to see Lamb and PJ3 as key players on the second unit. The roster's going to look very different next season, as I imagine a few of the guards won't be on the squad. If either rook begins tearing it up in Tulsa, I could see OKC making a move this season to get them in the lineup.
New York (Brooklyn) To Los Angeles: Oklahoma City has a great opportunity to prove to everyone that the rebuilt Thunder squad is built for the long haul. Tuesday's contest versus an 11-5 Brooklyn squad should make for an interesting matchup. The Nets have defended much better than expected (2nd overall in points allowed, 91.1) and have notched big wins against the Celtics twice, Clippers and those new rivals that are the New York Knicks.
Then there's that game with the team from Los Angeles. The Forum Blue and Gold version.
Is this the Los Angeles Lakers team we expected to see after a fifth of the season complete? Probably not, but what team did we actually expect? Five games in we expected the Princeton offense (which Kobe Bryant was the biggest proponent of) and then the coach got fired. Then we thought Phil Jackson was coming in to right the ship, but then he got passed over for
The Pringles Man Mike D'Antoni. Dwight Howard's missed over 100 free throws, Pau Gasol's a constant name in the trade rumor machine and the Lakers are 8-9 on the season.
Yet, I'm never ready to take the Lakers for granted. Kobe's still Kobe. Their frontcourt is still real. Steve Nash will be back at some point. Beating the Lakers is important, as its OKC's chance to let everyone in the West know who's still in charge. The Western Conference Champion Thunder, everybody.