AP — The Oklahoma City Thunder were one of the hot- test teams in the NBA before the pandemic hit.
The Thunder had won eight of 10 and climbed to the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference standings before the season was delayed. Now, they hope they can pick up where they left off as play resumes in Florida. The Thunder were riding the wave of a rejuvenated Paul and a rapidly improving Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Thunder lead the league with 16 wins after trailing heading into the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City also is 4-0 in overtime this season.
WHERE WE WERE
Balance has been a strength all season. In addition to Paul and Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari averages 19.2 points and reserve Dennis Schroder averages 19.0 points. Steven Adams, a defensive anchor at center, averages 10.9 points and 9.4 rebounds. Oklahoma City didn’t make any moves at the trade deadline, so the team benefited from continuity and went 7-2 after the All-Star break.
Thunder guard Andre Roberson might be ready to contribute after being out for 21⁄2 years. Roberson, an NBA all- defense second-team selection during the 2016-17 season, initially suffered a ruptured patellar tendon in the knee in January 2018. He had a procedure in October that year after a setback in the recovery from the initial surgery. The Thunder had hoped he’d be ready earlier this season, but progress was slow, and he left the team to rehab for a while.
LEAVING THE BUBBLE
Dennis Schroder has told the Thunder he plans to leave the bubble for the birth of his second child. The baby is expected to arrive near the end of the re-started regular season. Schroder is the league’s top scorer among reserves, and Donovan has pushed for him to be considered for Sixth Man of the Year. Schroder said he wants to eventually return to the team, though Presti said he will understand if that changes.