January: What We Learned

By Sam Agnitsch

After a brutal month, featuring multiple games against top opponents, three home games and one broken arm, the Thunder closed out the road trip Tuesday, losing to the Spurs 108-94. The Thunder won 7 out of the 15 during the toughest month of the year, but unfortunately the only thing harder than the schedule are the folding chairs at Chesapeake. So after unpacking everything, what have we learned? What did this test tell us about playoff prospects? What do we do without Enes? We explore.

-Horrible time for Kanter to get injured (no shit), has been extremely productive as of late.

-All these considered going 7 for 15 isn’t that bad, really only one bad loss to Minnesota stands out.

-Cameron Payne is having a difficult time reintegrating his game with the group. Seems like 90% of his offense since his return has been forced and out of sync.

-OKC is averaging 95 points a game since Kanter’s injury. This would put them dead last in the league by a 2 point margin.

-Joffrey had a nice game against Cleveland but other than that has been non-existent.

-Jerami Grant has got to get more minutes, especially with Roberson shooting worse than ever. Teams at least respect him from the arc.

-I love Andre but with this roster his offensive flaws are starting to overshadow his defense. Teams aren’t even acknowledging his existence from 3 and in turn, the paint is getting packed, disrupting everything from Russ penetrating to Adams operating on the block.

-This pre all star stretch will be huge for Donovan, with the team in what’s probably the lowest point of the season, what kind of response he can get in the coming games will tell us everything we need to know regarding how in tune he is with the players.

-These rumblings though about Donovan’s job security are frankly embarrassing. Billy can coach, we know this by watching him go toe-to-toe with 2 of the best coaches on the planet last year and if it weren’t for a disappearing act from KD in games 5 and 6, might just have a ring. I know we are used to a ridiculous standard but the hard truth is this team isn’t a top 5 team, even when healthy.

-Even before Kanter’s injury, it has become pretty obvious the Thunder aren’t climbing back into contender status via trades, they simply just don’t have the assets to swap for an all-star caliber player, at least ones they would consider trading.

-That being said, I’m sure Presti’s got some sort of plan before the deadline. It’ll basically be about building up the role players this season to hopefully make a splash in free agency (fingers crossed).

-Good news: 8 out of the next 10 games are at home, Bad news: the next 6 opponents are all playoff teams.

-OKC does have an easier schedule to close the year and it seems like a lock they will fall in that 6-7 seed range. A 6 seed could see a matchup against the Rockets or possibly Clippers which are winnable series’, a 7 seed will see a matchup against the Spurs which is not.

-Oh hey KD comes back this month, that’ll be neat.

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