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Why Things Will Never Work With Westbrook in OKC
With superstar Kevin Durant having already been out for a good portion of the season, and now out 4-6 months with what is a concerning foot injury, the Oklahoma City Thunder have now put all their eggs this season into the basket of Russell Westbrook. Ill start off by saying who can blame them? You watch this guy on TV and see plays from him that make you realize what a true athlete he really is, then after the game you see his stats and the numbers jump off the page. He leads the league with 9 triple doubles, and for a minute was considered by a lot of people to be the favorite in the MVP race. There is no doubt he is considered one of the top players in the league, combined with the best scorer on the planet in Kevin Durant, so how could it not work in OKC?
The first and possibly most important reason why Russell Westbrook hurts the Thunder is that he puts a limitation on the best scorer on the planet earth, Kevin Durant. According to basketball reference, In the last full season that Durant and Westbrook played together (2012-2013), Russell Westbrook had 102 more field goal attempts than Kevin Durant did. Just so you make sure I typed that figure in correctly, he took ONE HUNDRED AND TWO shots more than Durant did. Not taking anything away from Russell Westbrook's scoring ability, but when you have a guy in Kevin Durant who has; led the NBA in scoring 4 out of out of the past 5 years (not including this one due to injury), in the past 3 years has averaged over 50% from the field, 40% from three point range, and nearly 90% from the free throw line, how is this guy not taking the majority of the shots available for your team? Meanwhile, in those same 3 years Westbrook has averaged 43% from the field, 30% from three point range, and 82% from the free throw line. But somehow some way Russell Westbrook finds his way to shooting most of the shots.
There is a term in the NBA called "0 guard" which is basically a point guard who plays like a shooting guard. Russell Westbrook is the epitome of a zero guard. He has the ball in his hands every single time the Thunder come down the court. So if he thinks he can take his guy to the basket or pull up from mid-range as we've seen him do time after time after time, then best-believe that's exactly what Russell Westbrook is going to do. When I think of the ideal point guard I'd want on my team in the NBA, I think of a guy who makes everyone around him better. Who puts the ball in places his teammates want it and has that natural pass first instinct. A guy who is the quarterback of the offense, and as he goes, everyone else on his team begins to go with him.
Okay, so I'm not going to give all the blame to Russell Westbrook. And I'm sure you know where I'm going with this, because they are the ones who always get thrown under the bus. That being head coach Scott Brooks. I don't know which one confuses me more, the fact this guy still has a job with the team, or the fact that he had Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins in the starting lineup for what has seemed like the past decade. On top of that, he runs one of the dullest offenses in the league. That consisting of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant taking turns going at their man in isolation and hoping for the best result. But this can only get you so far.
I have maintained my stance on Russell Westbrook since the 2012 season when they were swept by the Heat in the NBA finals. When I lost count of how many times I saw Russell Westbrook come down the court and pull up for so many questionable jump shots. Then I thought to myself, how can they beat teams like the Heat (now the Cavs) in a 7 game series when the Heat can match up with them athletically? And despite the fact this years championship hopes are down the drain with the recent KD news, how could they beat teams like the Warriors and the Spurs and then take on presumably the Cavs in the NBA finals and expect to win? Especially when the best scorer in the world, KD, isn't getting the touches he really needs and deserves?
The sad truth of the matter is, OKC may be running out of time. Harden is gone, KD is gone for the rest of the 2015 season, which means this season is gone too. Oh, what was that KD? You're going to be a free agent in the summer of 2016? Next year, in his contract season, KD will be 27 years old. There have been reports in the past of Russell Westbrook and KD getting into heated arguments in games. Anyone who keeps up with the knows NBA that KD is STARVING for a championship. Whether you see it from him leading the league in technicals in the 2014 season, his emotional MVP speech, or his quote about how he was sick and tired about being "2nd." If you're KD, and you don't win a championship in 2015, you might be thinking, "Hey, Im turning 28 years old next year and I haven't won shit, maybe this really isn't going to work out." There has been speculation about him following in the footsteps of the Great Lebron James and 'come home.' Home being Washington DC, where he grew up in, and join the Wizards. Not to mention, the Wizards have a point guard, a dude named John Wall, who leads the NBA in assists this season. Who I'm sure can get KD the ball right where he wants it.
In conclusion, OKC has a lot to bring to the table when healthy and are probably a top 5 team in the league. But when you get into the playoffs, have such a mediocre coach, a stagnant offense, and your second best player taking the majority of the shots, is that really a winning formula? Did Scottie Pippen take most of the shots when the Bulls 3-peated twice? I'm not saying there are many teams that can beat OKC in a 7 game series, but they just don't have enough to reach the very top of the mountain. They have one year left to convince KD that he would make the right decision by staying, and if next year doesn't go as well as planned, I have a very tough time believing KD will sign long term.