Professional basketball players are asked every day, before and after each game, about the importance or disappointment of a single win or loss. Over an 82 game stretch, it is safe to assume that these questions draw some ire out of the players.
Two season ago, when the Oklahoma City Thunder were reeling in an injury-plagued season, the former Thunder big man Kendrick Perkins provided insight on how the team views their season. Simply, they break it down into 10 game intervals.
It is easy to get caught up in the moment. The Thunder recently blew a halftime lead in Minneapolis before losing to the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves. A bad loss no matter how you slice it. But when viewed from the 10 game lens, its impact weighs less heavy.
At this point — prior to tonight’s game against the Sacramento Kings — the Thunder find themselves at 24-17. Not bad, not great. Considering team losses and some injuries here and there, Oklahoma City fans are happy. If you look at the season through Perkins’ 10 game intervals, you may become more pleased.
— Oklahoma City Thunder Digest © (@ThunderDigest) January 14, 2017
1ST 10 GAMES – 6-4
2ND 10 GAMES – 6-4
3RD 10 GAMES – 6-4
4TH 10 GAMES – 6-4
You add in the recent Minnesota loss — the first of the 5th 10 game interval — and you find yourself at the 24-17 mark.
What does this mean? From a good sample size, the Thunder are a team that bounce back and steady the ship. With a few head scratching losses and the occasional exciting upset victory, Oklahoma City has shown who and what they are.
A deeper look inside their schedule results:
LONGEST WINNING STREAK – SIX GAMES
LONGEST LOSING STREAK – FOUR GAMES
That is a little funny. Six and four.
With the four game losing streak and two three game losing streaks the Thunder have lost back to back games only one other time. There will be more stretches of consecutive losses but with how the Thunder have proven to be rather resilient, those stretches will be short.
It would be foolish to not acknowledge the Thunder’s immediate future. A California road trip which includes the LA Clippers and Golden State Warriors, followed by a battle in Salt Lake City. After one more home game, Oklahoma City will finish out January with consecutive road games in Cleveland and San Antonio. By far the most difficult month of any NBA team.
The Thunder’s 6-4 average may be skewed due to the gauntlet of January. With that same assumption, Oklahoma City’s evidence on the floor suggests it would not be wise to simply bury the Thunder due to a plethora of road games.
In other words, a future 10 game stretch may result in a disappointing 4-6 record. But there is nothing wrong with then assuming that the Thunder can again steady the ship and go 7-3 in the next 10 game stretch.
For more perspective, if the Thunder’s 6-4 average through 10 game intervals continue, they would finish anywhere from 48 wins to 50 wins. This would put the Thunder anywhere from the 7th to the 4th seed.
Even 41 games into the season it is difficult to project a team’s future. Especially when you consider Oklahoma City’s schedule pre and post January. But there is something to be said about witnessing a team’s resiliency and grit. Two things Russell Westbrook perfectly personifies.
The Thunder will only go as far as Westbrook can take them. While he leads the league in scoring and is still averaging a triple-double, Westbrook has shown stretches of great play where he elevates his team and poor stretches where he can be the cause of poor losses.
About a 6-4 average if you think about it.