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Thunder Journal: 10 Keys To A Successful Thunder Game

Thunder Journal: 10 Keys To A Successful Thunder Game

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The Thunder saw their late double digit lead quickly evaporating. Charlotte, more specifically Miles Bridges, kept hitting 3 after 3 after 3, and OKC continued turning the ball over and missing free throws.

And Thunder fans were… kinda excited?

OKC wants to tank to a top pick, so losing is good… but winning is way more fun.

The beginning of a sure to be strange season coming at the end of an insane year was led off by a delayed first game with a thrillingly confusing ending.

When the Thunder stormed to a 102-89 lead, Thunder fans were half pumped and half bummed.

When the burning Bridges barrage tied the game at 107-107, Thunder fans were half bummed and half excited.

And when Shai showed he’s got that Russ 2016, CP3 2020 and PG13 That One Time clutch gene to hit the game winner with 1.4 seconds left on the clock, Thunder fans were, well, they were pretty psyched–’cause, I mean, come on.

But because this is bound to be a bewildering season, I’d like to share with you my little personal guide to enjoying a Thunder game this season. I hope it helps you cut out of the confusion and get make sense of a nonsensical next six months.

Let’s test out my guidelines on Oklahoma City’s opening game against the Hornets and find out how it graded out on the enjoyable scale.

10 Keys To A Successful Thunder Game in 2020-2021

  1. Did Shai look like a future star? PASS. Shai scored 24 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, and dished out 7 assists for all the (s)ha(i)ters who say he can’t pass. He was a +14, second highest in the game. He played solid defense. Oh yeah, and he splashed a 22 foot and 11 inches game winner.
  2. Did Darius Bazley look like an emerging stud? PASS. Bubble Bazley is still alive and well, as Darius put up a 15-10 double double to go along with 2 blocks and a steal. The 20 year old is emerging as a true two way player.
  3. Did Dort continue to Dort with a side of offense? PASS. We know Lu is gonna bring high effort, motor and defense every game. But when he scores 15 points including a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line and is a game high +16, he’s a true difference maker.
  4. Did Al Horford help recoup trade value? INCOMPLETE. Horford hoarded boards with 13 on the night, and he showed off his big man vision with 3 assists. But after a preseason in which he looked like he’d be the second scoring banana behind Chiquita Shai, Al scored just 3 points on 1-5 shooting. I expect the single digit scoring nights to be seldom.
  5. Did George Hill maintain his trade value? PASSED WITH FLYING COLORS. This dude needs to chill out. We’re trying to Fade 4 Cade over here. Hill scored 21 on 8-9 shooting and 4-4 from 3 point range, his last one a banker at the buzzer. If OKC is gonna tank, Hill might need to be yanked.
  6. Did Poku flash some special rookie talent? FAIL. The Serbian seven-footer celebrated his 19th birthday by being the only Thunder player to go scoreless. Poku had no 3s in his fanny pack tonight, as he emptied the clip and went 0-6. On the bright side, he did have 4 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block (and altered a couple more shots) in only 11 minutes.
  7. Did Maledon look like a 2nd round steal? FAIL. Theo didn’t have a bad game, but it certainly wasn’t a “he’s a steal!” game either. The Frenchman-boy had an assist that was as pretty a pass as any in his protégé Parker’s package of highlights. And he swiped 2 steals. But he only scored 4 points, matched by his number of turnovers, in 20 minutes.
  8. Did Ty Jerome do anything to show he might be a keeper? INCOMPLETE. Jerome was selected one pick after Bazley in the 1st round of the 2019 draft, so I haven’t forgotten the forgotten man. But his ankle sprain kept him out of the opener.
  9. Did the Thunder keep it competitive and entertaining? PASS. Win or lose, a back and forth affair in which OKC fights and refuses to give up is exactly the kind of game we want to see from this scrappy bunch.
  10. Did the Thunder lose? FAIL. This is probably the most important key on this list, as securing an elite talent in the 2021 draft was the focus of the entire season. Apparently, nobody told SGA.
  11. The First Addendum: Key #10 is subject to a PASSING grade if the opponent is the Houston Rockets because OKC holds their 2021 1st round draft pick. And also ’cause screw ‘em.
  12. The Second Addendum: Key #10 is subject to a PASSING grade if Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hits a beautiful game winner in the final moments.

Taking the Second Addendum into account, the final tally of the Thunder’s opening night game vs the Hornets is 6 PASS, 2 FAIL and 2 INCOMPLETES. That’s a score of 75%, a grade that would give Ralphie Parker day terrors, but Shai shooting Charlotte’s eye out makes this game an A++++.