Another week of Oklahoma City Thunder basketball is in the books! What were the biggest storylines from week two of Thunder basketball?
Days of Rest
For the Thunder’s game against the Orlando Magic, veterans Al Horford and George Hill sat out to rest. This game was the second of a Back-to-Back set, (both players had played significant minutes the night before against the Utah Jazz), so Coach Daigneault gave them the night off. In his remarks about the game, Coach referenced the team’s handling of Danilo Gallinari last Season, (he almost always sat the second night of a Back-to-Back), as a guideline for how they will likely be monitoring Al Horford and George Hill’s minutes this Season. So, going forward, expect the veterans to likely rest for one of the games in a Back-to-Back set. This allows the Thunder to accomplish two things: 1) It allows the vets to stay healthy, enabling them to perform at a high level when called upon. 2) It gives the younger players more minutes to develop, learn, and compete.
Keeping it Close
A major theme of last Season’s Thunder team was their ability to thrive in the Clutch, (last five minutes of Regulation, or Overtime). With CP3, SGA, and Dennis Schroder, OKC had three of the very best Clutch performers in the League. While CP3 (Suns) and Schroder (Lakers) are no longer with the Thunder, SGA has continued to perform well when it matters most. He hit the Game Winner in Charlotte and had a chance to win it at the buzzer against Jazz, but the shot rimmed out. The team, as a whole, has maintained that Clutch Gene, keeping all three games close. While they will likely lose more games than they win this season, the Thunder are developing good experience in pressure moments, and are keeping games competitive and respectable. This trend definitely bodes well for their future as they grow and gain experience.
While everything has been going swimmingly in OKC, (the team is competing, has bought into Coach’s system, and has good chemistry), there are definitely some teams trending the other way. The Houston Rockets, Washington Wizards, and Golden State Warriors are three teams that come to mind immediately. Houston is mired in a trade demand saga on top of COVID-19 protocols, Washington has come out the gates flat, (despite trading for Westbrook), and the Warriors are a shell of their former glory. If these teams continue to struggle, it makes them more likely trade partners for the Thunder and other teams. Add in the fact that OKC owns Rockets’ picks from CP3 Trade and potentially a Warrior’s First Round Pick (if Warriors bounce back and have a good season), these are definitely teams to monitor this season.