NBA Western Power Rankings Week 6: Clippers start rising

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Dec 10, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) reacts after a play against the Atlanta Hawks during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

3rd: Oklahoma City Thunder (25 points)

By Trisity Miller

Record: 15-8

December record: 4-1

If you were wondering who team no.2 is in regards to losing hype because of the Warriors’ monstrosity, here they are.

Which is odd considering Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are probably two of the seven best players in all of basketball, with Westbrook easily taking the crown as most polarizing. But in the midst of 24-1, the other Western Conference elite have been subjected to “tier 2” status.

But regardless of whether you choose to pay them any attention as the Warriors shoot for history, the Thunder of late are reminding the people how good they can be when Russ and KD are on the floor, and it’s a stark reminder of how they demolish teams with talent and not precision and execution i.e. the Warriors or Spurs. But it’s working: per NBA Stats, in the 150 minutes Durant and Westbrook together have played in the month of December, the Thunder are outscoring opponents by 16.5 points per 100 possessions. Spreading that window out to include the ever-impressive Serge Ibaka, in 124 minutes played OKC’s Big 3 have a 21.3 net rating.

The Kings are still the Kings, though they put up a good fight against OKC; it’s unclear if beating up on the Grizzlies should be considered an accomplishment anymore; the Hawks, in their “underachieving” on the season, is still a good win; and barely defeating a Utah team without Gobert, a win is a win. The only lose of the month — so far — came against the Miami Heat, where a controversial fourth quarter looms over.

From the outside looking in, it seems as if the Thunder are growing comfortable with each other. They are still limited, with the wings being lackluster outside of Durant and the big, expensive Enes Kanter problem looming, but those factors just don’t matter right now they’re just out-talenting everybody in ways only three other teams in the league (GSW, CLE, SAS) can do. And it’s working, so there’s no reason for the show to stop any time soon.

Next: San Antonio Spurs