We're right in the heart of the dog days of the NBA season, and the Thunder is handling itself quite well.
Oklahoma City has put together a 19-7 record since the last report card despite playing 15 of its past 21 games on the road. That brutal stretch is now over though, as OKC will get to close out January with eight of 12 on its own court.
The road has been tough, and the numbers show it. Most Thunder players saw their early-season stats take a dip—some more severe than others.
Considering the brutality of the schedule, the grading will be a little more lenient this time around. Here's how the Thunder players graded-out for the second quarter of the season.
Kevin Durant: A+ (previous: A+)
Durant spent much of the first quarter deferring to teammates, which resulted in a still-impressive 26.5 points per game. He turned up the heat in the second, scoring 32 points per game while even slightly increasing his field goal percentage from 51 to 52. His 4.4 assists per game has stayed the same, but the concern is his rebounding. Durant averaged 8.5 boards in the first quarter, collecting six double-digit rebound performances in OKC's first 19 games, but has since averaged just 6.5 and has just two such performances in the past 27.
Personally, I like Durant better when he's not rebounding as much. He can save his energy for the offensive end where he remains the deadliest scorer in the league. But if he's not going to crash the boards as often, that means guys like Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka have to start stepping up the effort on the glass.
Russell Westbrook: B (previous: B)
The bad news first: Westbrook's assist average has dipped from 8.7 to 8.4 while his shooting percentage is still down in the 41-percent range (he shot 46% last year). Now the good news: he has his free-throw percentage back up above 80 percent and that dip in assists can likely be attributed to his teammates struggling to knock shots down.
It's hard to be too critical of Russell, considering the minutes he logs and the overall impact he has on the games, but there are times he simply tries too hard. There are some games where it looks like his personal mission is to destroy the other team's point guard, and it often results in a sub-30 percent shooting night. Westbrook has some maturing to do before he can eliminate those frustrating outbursts from his game. Incidents like blocking the mascot's shots in Denver and ripping the towel away from the fan in Sacramento need to stop.
Serge Ibaka: B- (previous: A+)
It was a rough second quarter of the season for Serge. Sure, Ibaka set the bar high early in the season, but he hasn't been able to keep those numbers up, especially on the offensive end.
Ibaka's gone from 14.5 points per game down to 13.9. His free-throw percentage has dropped from 87 percent all the way down to 76 percent, while his field-goal percentage has taken a dip from 60 to 56.
On the defensive end, both his rebounds and blocks are down from the season's first quarter and he only has six double-doubles during the 26-game stretch. It would be encouraging to see Ibaka pick his numbers back up a bit as OKC prepares for a playoff push.
Kevin Martin: B+ (previous: A)
Martin's efficiency has continued as he's slowly becoming more and more integrated into the Thunder's offense. His 3-point percentage has dipped down from 48 percent in the season's first quarter to 43 percent, but that's still good for top-10 in the NBA.
While the complaint about a lot of NBA players is they shoot too much, the opposite holds true for Martin. As efficient as he is, he's only shooting the ball 10.5 times per game, and that's not enough. In the past 26 games, Martin has seven games of single-digit field goal attempts. In four of those seven games, he shot over 50 percent.
There's really no excuse for a guy with Martin's abilities to shoot fewer than 10 times if he's hitting at a 50-percent-or-better clip, especially if he's logging decent minutes with the Thunder's offensively-challenged second unit.
Kendrick Perkins: F (previous: C)
After shooting an impressive 59 percent over the season's first quarter, Perkins has really fallen off the cliff. Perk's 37 percent shooting over the past 26 games is unbelievable bad considering he rarely shoots from outside of four feet. On top of that, he only has four double-digit rebounding performances this entire season.
Either Perkins shapes up or Sam Presti needs to ship him out.
Nick Collison: B+ (previous: A-)
The high-energy man off the Thunder bench has continued to provide the team with just that: energy and hustle. Oh yeah, plus extremely efficient scoring. Collison's field goal percentage is still above 60 percent and if he can finish the year this way, it'll be the first time in his career he's reached that mark. If Kendrick is going to continue to be awful, Collison might start to see more minutes.
Reggie Jackson: B (previous: N/A)
Here's guy who didn't even receive a grade last time around because he never saw the court. Boy has that changed. Jackson turned his "incomplete" grade into a mark worth boasting about. He's provided OKC with energy and scoring while taking over Eric Maynor's role as the backup point guard. He's only getting 11 or 12 minutes per game, but he's been efficient in those minutes. He's shooting 43 percent and has a 2-1 assist-to-turnover ratio (although the totals of both are miniscule).
Now that Jackson has earned his playing time and is settling into his new role, it would be nice to see him expand his aggressiveness and do a little more with the minutes he's given. We'll check back up with him after the season's third quarter.
Thabo Sefolosha: C+ (previous: B+)
Sefolosha is another player who has seen his shooting numbers fizzle during the season's second quarter. His 51 percent from the field has dropped to 47 and his incredible 46 percent 3-point shooting mark has fallen to 40. Those numbers are still okay, but keep in mind, Thabo rarely shoots unless he's wide-open.
Sefolosha's role is clear and limited: defense and spot-up shooting. As OKC heads into the second half of the season, it will be important for a guy like Thabo who have the ability to score to chip in.
Hasheem Thabeet: C (previous: A+)
Thabeet put forth a strong effort in the season's first quarter, shooting 72 percent and giving great per-48-minute numbers. That production has dropped off, but part of it has to do with his sporadic minutes. One night Thabeet will get 17 minutes and the next he won't play. That comes as a result of Scott Brooks constantly juggling the lineup in search of consistency. It would be nice to see Thabeet disrupt a few more shots on the defensive end if he's going to remain a non-factor offensively.