Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
Pundits didn’t project the Oklahoma City Thunder to do well this season, but they proved many people wrong by earning the Western Conference’s No. 5 seed and nearly picking off the Houston Rockets in the first round before losing their postseason series in seven games.
Speaking after the Thunder’s 104-102 Game 7 loss to the Rockets on Wednesday, Thunder point guard Chris Paul told reporters how he and his team felt about the prognostications.
ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gave the Thunder a 0.2 percent chance to make the playoffs before the season, per Moke Hamilton of Thunder Wire.
Paul repeated that 0.2 percent figure after his team crushed the Western Conference No. 1 seed Los Angeles Lakers during the seeding-game portion of the regular season.
“Nobody expected us to be here,” Paul said. “0.2…0.2 percent, 0.2 percent.”
The Thunder also had an over/under win total of 31 before the season, per Caesar’s Palace, giving them the eighth-lowest total in the league:
OKC crushed that prediction by 13 wins en route to a 44-28 record. The Thunder accomplished that feat despite their regular season being cut short by 10 games because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paul, who was traded from the Houston to OKC before the season, played a large part in the Thunder’s excellent season.
The 10-time All-Star averaged 17.6 points on 48.9 percent shooting and 6.7 assists for the Thunder, which featured a well-rounded team with five players averaging double digits in scoring. OKC also finished seventh in the NBA in defensive rating, per Basketball Reference.
The Thunder did all this despite trading 2016-17 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook back to the Rockets and dealing six-time All-Star Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers last summer. The 2019-20 season looked like it would be a rebuilding one in OKC, but that was not meant to be.
The season may have ended with a heartbreaking loss, but the Thunder crushed all expectations and had an excellent season all things considered.