clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Game Preview: Suns vs. Thunder

New, comments
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Suns

After three games with Earl Watson it's been interesting to see what the new coach has done with the rotation. New signing Orlando Johnson saw minutes right away on Saturday and that didn't stop Jordan McRae from getting some time either. The odd man out this time was Sonny Weems, but I am personally in favor of getting a hard look at the two 10-day contract guys.

Down low, it's been the mysterious disappearance of Jon Leuer. He had plenty of games when he was the best player on the floor for the Suns and while his stats did take a dip in the beginning of February, he hasn't come close to deserving no playing time. For this team, his offensive flexibility outweighs his concerns on defense and the biggest part of Leuer's game has been maintaining a physical presence inside despite being a stretch four.

Markieff Morris has reverted back to his form for most of the regular season and maybe that's what it takes for Leuer to see the floor. The Suns are 4-7 when Leuer plays more than 25 minutes this season, which stands out because of the team's current 14-38 record. Like Dave said on Saturday, maybe this is something that will clear up after the trade deadline, but that doesn't seem fair to one of the very few bright spots of the season.

Thunder

The Thunder might be the best team in NBA history as the third or fourth title favorite. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are putting up the best net ratings (difference between ORtg and DRtg) of their careers and continue to be absolutely sensational.

Durant, who spent time last night taking photographs for the Players' Tribune at the Super Bowl, is having another one of his ridiculous seasons. One of the best scorers of all time, Durant is on his way to his third straight season of shooting at least 50 percent from the field on at least 16 shot attempts per game and at least two three-point makes per game. Durant is the only guy to ever do it, with Steph Curry currently on pace to join him.

Also of the most unique players of all time, Westbrook is having arguably his best season. Compared to last season, Westbrook is shooting three percent better from the field, has 1.4 more assists per game and 0.1 less turnovers per game. He's currently on pace for a season that has never been done before (the NBA started tracking steals in the mid 70s) and I was even a little generous on the qualifications compared to his current line.

I thought the SSOL Suns had the best case at "how did that team not win a championship?" since 2000, but that team doesn't come close to having Westbrook and Durant together for (at least) eight seasons and not getting a ring.

Their problem -- along with injuries -- has been replacing some of the pieces around them they've had to go let go of in the past like Jeff Green/Kendrick Perkins, James HardenKevin Martin (remember him?), Reggie Jackson and Thabo Sefolosha. That's pretty crazy considering they have Serge Ibaka with the two stars. They could use another wing (Hi P.J.!), but they are in a much better spot this year compared to last.

Steven Adams is quite simply very good at basketball and has the best net rating of someone not on the Warriors or Spurs. Dion Waiters has improved his three-point shooting, Enes Kanter is having even more of an impact on offense this year and both have made major strides on the defensive end. BSOTS predraft favorite Cameron Payne is providing some decent two-way play for a rookie point guard and you cannot leave Anthony Morrow open anywhere on the perimeter.

The Thunder are a step below the Spurs and Warriors because they are relying on a very flawed player, a rookie point guard and Waiters, but they are still one hell of a basketball team.

Westbrook's second highest career average for PPG (24.1) is against the Suns, only trailing the New York Knicks. I would expect for him to have a big big night after the close loss to the Warriors.

All statistics via nba.com and basketball refernce