People ask me my favorite part of the NBA All-Star Game. It wasn’t that furious comeback late, nah that happens every year. The real show for me was watching Russell Westbrook again try and steal Kevin Durant‘s thunder (pun intended)…just as he has tried to all year.
It boggles my mind that people can’t see that while personally they’re a great fit, basketball-wise these two players can’t reach their full potential on the same team.
In a recent game against the Denver Nuggets, Durant scored 50 points and Westbrook 41…fans around the league were hyped. But if you take a look at the boxscore it’s shocking…Russ actually shot the ball one more time than Kevin did.
Durant began the season as a serious MVP-candidate, that was, until Westbrook decided he could sell even more sneakers. The result? Russell taking bad shots down the stretch of games while Kevin “spaces the floor.” While the Thunder still has the top record out west, it’s more off talent than execution.
I agree that Russ should take part of Durant’s role on this team…..but in the locker room, not in the boxscore. This team needs more leadership at the point and less highlight shot attempts. The point guard should be the leader and the swingman should carry the bulk of the scoring burden, it’s old school but it works.
I know, a player can’t change his stripes. Russell will always be who he is: a freak athletically that looks to score first, last, and in between. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the best thing for this team.
Russell Westbrook was signed to a monster contract extension recently, it was a no-brainer. No matter if you think he’ll retire in OKC or not, you can’t let an asset like that hold you for ransom one day in a contract year (just ask New Orleans & Orlando). His stock will always be high, barring some bizarre injury, so using him via trade will always be possible.
That’s exactly what I think will happen in the next year or so.
The Thunder will eventually realize that they’re a reincarnation of the Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks of the early 2000′s: a great regular season team that just doesn’t have the right make-up to be a serious championship contender. Sure, their defense is better than that of those teams…but the 1-2 punch of Durant & Westbrook just doesn’t have that synergy to win consistently in the playoffs.
I think GM Sam Presti already sees this, he just fears alienating Kevin Durant and the OKC fans.
A change like this can’t be made now, too much success has been achieved as currently constructed. But when the team stops making progress and starts to slide back down in the standings Russ will be on the first thing out of Oklahoma City.
If this team doesn’t at least make it to the conference finals again this season, it could even happen this summer.
It’s nothing against Russell, it’s just basketball chemistry. Hopefully, Kevin sees it the same way. Westbrook may be his best friend, but most great 1-2 punches in NBA history haven’t been the best of buddies (Magic-Kareem, Kobe-Shaq…I never saw Michael n’ Scottie hanging out). The distance away from the court allowed them to be tighter on it.
As Magic once said in the 80′s, “we can always be friends after the season.”
For the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Kevin Durant, to take the next level into championship contention they need a pass-first point guard. It’ll help halfcourt execution, it’ll help Durant reach his MVP-potential, and it’ll also improve the team’s defense. Balanced shot-taking means good court balance and getting back on ‘D’.
An overly-aggressive point guard looking to keep up with Derrick Rose on SportsCenter means playoff disappointment.
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