The Oklahoma City Thunder finished first in the stacked Western Conference with a record of 57-25. The Thunder are the youngest team in NBA history (23.9 years) to secure a No. 1 seed. Oklahoma City claims its sixth Northwest Division title and is the youngest team to win it. The Thunder are the youngest team in NBA history to win 55 games, per ESPN Stats & Information. Previous youngest? OKC’s 2010-11 squad.

Here are the final season stats for the Thunder and where they rank in the league:

Offensive Rating118.33rd
Defensive Rating1114th
Net Rating+ 7.32nd
Half-Court Offensive Rating 106.32nd
Half-Court Defensive Rating 97.33rd
Points Per Game120.13rd
Field Goal Percentage49.9%3rd
Free Throw Percentage82.5%4th
Actual Shooting %60.8%2nd
Effective Field Goal %57.3%3rd
Fewest Turnovers Per Game12.77th
Steals Per Game8.51st
Blocks Per Game6.61st
Offensive Rating118.33rd
Defensive Rating1114th
Net Rating7.32nd
Fast Break Points Per Game15.87th
Fast Break Points Allowed Per Game12.53rd
Points Off Turnovers Per Game20.51st
(Fewest) Points Off Turnovers Per Game14.83rd
Points In The Paint Per Game52.53rd
Points In The Paint (Allowed) Per Game473rd
Half-Court Offensive Rating106.32nd
Half-Court Defensive Rating97.33rd
Pick & Roll Offense2nd
Isolation Offense 5th
Half-court Set Offense2nd
Spot-Up Offense4th
Pick & Roll Defense3rd
Isolation Defense1st
Half-court Set Defense4th
Spot-up Defense11th
Half-court Offense2nd
Half-court Defense2nd
3-Point %38.9%1st
Turnovers Forced15.71st
Contested FG47.41st
Points Off Turnovers20.51st
Bench 3-Point %40.3%1st

These numbers are outliers for a team as young as this one. Many young teams in most of these categories are in the bottom half and need an identity. This doesn’t fit the criteria for this OKC team in the slightest.

They Show Up When It Matters Most

The Thunder have played in 38 games in the clutch. In those 38 games, they are 24-14 for a winning percentage of 63.2%, which places them fifth in that category. They do everything as a team on a game-to-game basis in the clutch. They score efficiently, shoot the ball well, and create turnovers. In a word, they are a well-oiled machine.

Part of this is because they have not one, not two, but three of the most efficient clutch performers. Of players who have taken 40 shots in the clutch (58 eligible players), Jalen Williams ranks #1 with 68.3%, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ranks #4 with 58.1%, and Chet Holmgren ranks 9th with 52.5%.

They Rise To The Occasion

Down the stretch of the season, you saw some juggernauts, or at least seemingly superior teams, get shocked and beaten by the league’s bottom feeders. However, when Shai and Dub returned from their injuries, this team did not play with their food, winning their last three games by 105 points.

The Thunder had the highest point differential in the Western Conference and 2nd highest in the league at +7.4. Compared to the other teams in the top 10, the Thunder has the best record against teams in the top 10, going 19-8.

There is one more reason.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Yes, Shai has had a particularly great season. He is the first player to do things only Michael Jordan and Steph Curry have done in an NBA season. Leads the league in 30-point games. He has the efficiency of a wing player as a guard. He is still just 25 years old. His previous playoff experience was a mixed bag, first as a rookie playing against the dynasty Warriors and then as a 3rd option on a makeshift Thunder playoff team. All these things can be true, and they are. But so is this.

Shai will come into these playoffs and dominate at every game stage.

He has set up this expectation. This is his coming out party and this is the stage where he needs to announce himself as not only a star or an up-and-coming player. No, bump that. This dude is a superstar with a transcendent talent, a unique skill set, and a demeanor that does not waver. This will be a statement, an announcement, a coronation, an alert, and a final notice that Shai is at the top of the league and isn’t going anywhere. He has arrived.

And just like Shai’s arrival, so will it be the Oklahoma City Thunder’s.

This team is built for the postseason. This roster is built for competition. This squad thrives in adversity.

They have every excuse not to win it all. They’re too young. They overachieved. They needed this loss. But all season long, this team has flipped the script on every excuse given to them.

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