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Above the Noise: The Thunder Have Leveled Up

One thing has become evident: The Thunder are no longer a bottom-five franchise.
Above the Noise: The Thunder Have Leveled Up

Above the Noise⚡ A new season-long series from Josh Haar tracking important Thunder insights, observations, and predictions for the team's final record.

We're almost a third of the way through 2022-23, and it's certainly been an exciting one for Oklahoma City Thunder fans thus far. While a record of 11-14 doesn't sound great, it's a pleasant surprise considering the loss of Chet Holmgren, OKC's lowly pre-season expectations and the youthfulness of this team. The squad has competed well for the majority of their games, making every night they play fun to follow.

With the Thunder playing .500 basketball over their last 14 contests, let's take a look at what's guiding and limiting their success, as well as what their competitiveness means for the direction of the franchise this season.

Offensive Improvement

Through the first several games of the campaign, Oklahoma City struggled to score the ball. Outside of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the rest of the team was shooting inconsistently, leading to low FG% outputs and bottom-five point production.

On the contrary, strong defensive play contributed heavily to the Thunder's very-early-season competitiveness. After 11 games played, OKC had a net rating of -2.2 due to boasting a top ten defensive rating (110.1) while carrying the fifth worst offensive rating (107.9).

Now, 25 games in, the story of the Thunder has flipped.

The offense more or less has been clicking, as key contributors are starting to shoot efficiently on a more consistent basis. Lu Dort is a prime example of this: he started the year an abysmal 20.6% from three, but has since raised his overall long-range efficiency to 32%. While this still isn't a great percentage by any means, it's clearly a sign of significant improvement from where he started.

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