Thunder 2020 Playoff Rankings 1.1: Taking Some Lumps
OKC suffered a miserable loss to the Rockets in Game 1. We re-organize the Thunder’s best and worst performers accordingly.
1. Chris Paul (+0)
2. Danilo Gallinari (+5)
So much for worrying about Gallo heading into the playoffs. He turned in a career high (29 points), and only 6 of those came from behind the arc. He was typically the only Thunder player effective at penetrating to score or draw fouls (9-9 FT), and didn’t look any more exposed than the rest of the OKC defenders when helping or getting put on skates by Harden in isolation. If Oklahoma City trends in the direction of shrinking down to Houston’s size, which I think they will, Gallinari could be the most essential cog to making small-ball work without the presence of Adams or Noel on the court.
3. Steven Adams (+0)
4. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (-2)
9 points on 8 shots. A single, solitary assist. 7 combined three-point and free throw attempts. Not the numbers we were expecting for Gilgeous-Alexander to pump out to justify the hype over his improvement over the hiatus. After impressing us by attacking the paint throughout seeding play, SGA struggled with the Rockets’ walling off the rim more than the likes of Rudy Gobert. He acknowledged as much, saying Houston’s the interior defense surprised him. He needs to either create more space for others by shooting from outside, or more effectively slither to the rim with the limited space available to him in the half court.
5. Dennis Schröder (-1)
6. Luguentz Dort (+1)
7. Billy Donovan (-1)
8. Darius Bazley (+0)
9. Mike Muscala (+2)
10. Terrance Ferguson (+4)
Allred: “Ferguson shouldn’t play another meaningful minute.” – Yours truly in our DT groupchat, where the post-loss hot takes were a-flyin’ on Tuesday night. He wasn’t great, but after looking at the lineup data, I’m acknowledging that the Thunder were actually fine in T-Ferg’s minutes. OKC was a +9.5 in NRTG with the Ferguson starters, just shy of the +10.2 NRTG the heralded United Nations lineup turned in. Putting up a fight without fouling (1 personal for Ferguson) against Harden and shooting 2-3 from three is about all you can ask for from a non-Dort guard.
11. Nerlens Noel (-1)
12. Andre Roberson (-3)
13. Abdel Nader (+0)
14. Hamidou Diallo (-2)
Allred: “Neither should Diallo.” – DT’s beat writer, Brandon Rahbar, in the aforementioned thread. Diallo’s run at the three from the middle of the first quarter to the mid-second was bad. The Thunder were outscored by 11 in those minutes, most of which James Harden sat during. The story of the game was that the Thunder’s depth issue is still very much an issue, and I wouldn’t pin their performance entirely on Diallo. But he’s still erratic, and OKC needs to shore up disciplined team defense much more than it needs another couple points from their wing rotation. Brandon’s hot take was more in line with reality than mine. I’d rather see Billy roll the Nader dice next game than give Diallo 10+ minutes again.