Russell Westbrook is back to his old tricks.
Only two games into the season, he is back to jacking up more shots than Kevin Durant. Not only that, but Durant is, yet again, shooting a significantly higher percentage. Scott Brooks needs to get the memo: this is inexcusable.
Kevin Durant is arguably the best offensive player in the game. It’s utterly pathetic that there is somebody on KD’s own team getting more shots than he is—and a teammate who shows time and again that he does not deserve those shots.
Westbrook’s selfishness has held the Thunder back and now, with Harden gone, there is no buffer.
Westbrook will be fully exposed for what he is: the most selfish player in the NBA. More than Kobe, more than Carmelo, more than anybody else in the league, Westbrook just does not share the ball. Want some more proof? Durant has more assists (12) than Westbrook (11). The math here just does not add up. Westbrook is a point guard and Durant is a three-time scoring champion! Why would the scoring champion ever have more assists than his point guard? Shouldn’t he be the one racking up the assists to the lights-out shooter?
Sure, it was one of the more surprising turn of events when Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti dealt James Harden to the Houston Rockets. Maybe the financial disparity was not that large and the end result had to be a trade.
If that was the case (as it appears to have been), Presti should have traded Westbrook.
And it was not hard to do either, that is what I find particularly disappointing. The Thunder did not need Chris Paul or Rajon Rondo dishing dimes to Harden and Durant, just a mediocre point guard would have worked wonders. Harden could even run the point if necessary.
Westbrook’s trade value could have satisfied that and more.
But, to OKC’s dismay, three games into the season, Harden is absolutely demolishing the competition. Granted, the Detroit Pistons and Portland Trailblazers are not the NBA’s best, but a Lin and Harden backcourt looks like the perfect match—a pair of unselfish scorers. That duo has the potential to be a second-tier version of the Miami Heat’s LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Unfolding before our very eyes is proof that Westbrook was holding back Harden’s true potential…as he is no doubt continuing to do with Kevin Durant.
There is no other way to put it: Sam Presti kept the wrong number two player. Even though Russell Westbrook may be a more gifted athlete than Harden, the Bearded One would have been a better match with Durant. Chemistry is important and that is one thing that Russell Westbrook does not bring to the basketball court.
I gave Westbrook a favorable preseason ranking with the NBA’s best, but he has slapped me in the face, screaming only two games into the season that he might not even deserve a top-10 spot. I thought he could change his shot-happy ways, but Westbrook cannot figure out something as simple as giving the ball to Kevin Durant. We don’t need a basketball analyst to figure out that the best player should be taking the most shots for his team.
Without Harden, this is a ship waiting to get wrecked.
Don’t be surprised if Harden shows us this year that he is a better basketball player than Westbrook, either. And with that statement whisks the excitement away that has been built in OKC after incredible drafts over the past couple years.
Before we jump to conclusions about this season, all hope is not lost. There is time for change.
There are two solutions, however. For one, get Russell Westbrook out of the point guard position. How? …Well Presti put OKC into this mess so he should be able to find someone to fit the bill.
The second, and more critical adjustment, involves a change in a Thunder player with a non-zero number on the back of his jersey: Kevin Durant must stand up to Westbrook and insist on getting the ball more often. Durant does not have to make a public scene, because that’s not him. But he needs to make an emphatic statement to a clueless Russell Westbrook.
In no situation should the box score ever show that Westbrook took more shots than Durant. None. Oklahoma City will not win a championship with Westbrook trying to run the show like he is.
In the end, Kevin Durant is the captain of this ship. He has to command a change of direction or else prepare for wreckage.