The Thunder went 3-1 in preseason play and have continued to make strides on the court with each game, as each minute it put on tape was another for the coaching staff to present to the team as guidance for the rest of the season. It’s a small sample size to be sure, and both the players on the floor for the Thunder and the opposition won’t be identical come the regular season, but there were some interesting statistical takeaways from the Thunder’s preseason slate that stood out above the rest.
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Below is a list of those stats, along with commentary from Head Coach Billy Donovan.
- The Thunder led the NBA in rebounding in the preseason, with 51.7 rebounds per 48 minutes and 16.0 offensive rebounds per game.
- The Thunder ranked 7th in points per game allowed in the preseason and allowed opponents to shoot just 31.0 percent from the three-point line.
- “These guys have put a lot of time and a lot of work in to trying to get better defending the three,” said Donovan. “You may not be able to totally keep the number of attempts down but what you can do is understand that contestedness matters. The more contested shots are, the more you have a chance to keep shooting percentages down.”
- The Thunder placed 4th in steals at 10.2 per game and tied for 2nd in blocks with 7.5 per game.
Per-36 Minutes Statistics:
- In three preseason games, All-Star forward Paul George played just 23.4 minutes per game, but he was wildly productive during that time on the floor. Per-36 minutes statistics are a valuable way to project a players’ productivity into a typical starters’ workload. In the preseason, George’s Per-36 minutes numbers looked like this: 36.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.6 steals and 3.1 assists, with 42.1 percent three-point shooting to boot.
- “He’s done a great job because he’s done it a lot of different ways,” Donovan said. “He’s gotten fouled, his made threes, he’s made midrange, he’s driven it to the basket. I think he’s had a pretty good flow playing in this preseason.”
- Likewise, the Thunder’s other primary playmaker Dennis Schröder has also lit up the stat sheet. The speedy German is the Thunder’s starting point guard while Russell Westbrook remains out, and was extremely productive in the preseason, putting up stat-lines that paid homage to the 2017 NBA MVP. Per-36 minutes, Schroder averaged. 22.5 points, 8.1 assists and 6.3 rebounds.
- “Everybody has seen his skill set,” Donovan said of Schröder. “He’s really good with the ball. He can play downhill. He has great speed and can get into the lane. I think he can be a good shooter for us. He’s shot the ball well from behind the line, the three-point line, which has been encouraging. He gets in the teeth of the defense. He finds guys. So, he’s been a great addition. He’s done a great job since the start of training camp.”
- Center Steven Adams has also been a menace in the paint, racking up two double-doubles despite only averaging 24.4 minutes per game. Per-36 minutes, Adams averaged 16.2 points on 54 percent shooting, 14.4 rebounds and grabbed 21.0 percent of all available offensive rebounds.
Role Players Stand Out:
- Rookie guard Hamidou Diallo was the Thunder’s 4th-leading scorer in the preseason with 11.0 points per game on 43.2 percent shooting, including 37.5 percent from three, in 27.9 minutes per contest.
- Third-year guard Alex Abrines shot 50 percent from the field, including an outstanding 46.2 percent from the three-point line in 16.2 minutes per game.
- Playing the role of backup point guard, long-time veteran Raymond Felton dished out 3.5 assists in 16.6 minutes per game.
- Perhaps the most intriguing for the Thunder’s nightly prospects in the rotation was Nerlens Noel, who averaged a whopping 8.2 rebounds in 22.5 minutes per game. Noel’s rebounding, particularly on defense, will be crucial this season.
- “That’s one of the things that was probably very attractive to us as it relates to him as a player, because he is a good rebounder,” Donovan said. “And at times, I think defensively last year, we struggled to rebound the ball. Having him, I think he can be an asset on both ends.”