Thabo Sefolosha, the 29-year-old Swiss shooting guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder, has developed a reputation as a 3-and-D wing player for one of the best teams in the league, one that’s been to the NBA Finals once and is in the mix to finish with the top record in the Western Conference in 2013-14.
Sefolosha, however, has been out since Feb. 28 with a left calf strain that could sideline him until the end of the regular season.
The problem is that the numbers don’t bear out Sefolosha’s perceived important in the scheme of things in Oklahoma City.
Sefolosha’s 1,451 minutes on the court, the Thunder’s opponents post an offensive rating of 104.1 points per 100 possessions and the Thunder score 107.1 points per 100 possessions—a net differential of plus-3.0.
But here’s the problem. In 1,672 minutes with Sefolosha off the floor, Oklahoma City opponents score at a rate of 102.1 points per 100 possessions—two full points better than with the 3-and-D guy in the game.
On the other end of the court, Oklahoma City scored 113.4 points per 100 possessions, a net of 6.3 points to the positive.
Put it all together and in 2013-14, the Thunder are 8.3 points per 100 possessions better without Sefolosha than they are with him on the floor.
The difference wasn’t as stark last season. In fact, last season Sefolosha played up to his reputation. Defensively, the Thunder were at 100.6 points allowed per 100 possessions when he was on and 104.9 when he was off. And offensively, they scored 112.4 points per 100 possessions with him, 112.1 without. Oklahoma City was marginally better offensively with him and significantly better defensively.
This season, neither of those facts holds true.
In the six games since Sefolosha went down, the Thunder have a net rating of plus-13.1 points per 100 possessions. Before he was hurt, the net was plus-7.2.
For the season, the Thunder’s true shooting percentage without Sefolosha is 57.2; it’s 56.4 with him. Their turnover rate is 17.1 percent with, 15.3 percent without.
So perhaps the question is not how quickly can Sefolosha get back to the Thunder, but rather whether he should play a different role once he’s ready to return?
After a 2-1 week, Oklahoma City is 48-17, 1 game in back of San Antonio in the West and in second place in the conference. The Thunder lead the third-place Clippers by two games and have a 5½-game lead over Portland in the Northwest Division.
Here is the week that was, including game reviews, some news and notes, injury updates, rookie watch, and player of the week selection, as well as a look ahead to next week’s action (all statistical information from NBA.com/Stats):