As we grow this relationship between writer and reader you will learn two things about me and what I believe. I firmly believe that bacon can go with anything. I also believe that the OKC Thunder will never win a championship with Russell Westbrook as their point guard. I challenge you to apply reason to any argument that you have because the reality is that what I am saying rings true and it is only a matter of time before somebody in the Thunder front office sees this too. Let me start from the beginning.
It is 2008 and the Thunder see something special with Westbrook playing alongside Kevin Durant. These two guys are dynamic in every way – one can shoot the lights out, the other can score at the rim at will. The season of 2010-2011,to which I like to call his breakout season, Westbrook took the next step into being a household name by playing like an All-Star, averaging 21.9 points a game with 8.2 assists and 1.9 steals a game as well. Needless to say he was playing at a very high level. But I got peeved when people where saying that year that he was a better point guard then Derrick Rose, the same year that he won the MVP, and it did not sit well with me and here is why. There is no denying that Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook have very similar playing styles. They both get to the basket, both run the floor at insanely high speeds and can take over a game when needed. On top of that, their numbers are were very similar. So that year I made it a point to watch more Thunder games to see who was better until I came to a conclusion. Here is where the difference lies – Derrick Rose has to play with the mentality if he does not score no one else will and watching a Bulls game that becomes so evident. Derrick Rose has to score that way because nobody else can his team. Russell Westbrook on the other hand does not have that dilemma because,well, Kevin Durant. Just because you can, does not mean you should. This is a concept that Russell does not abide by. Do not get me wrong. I can not count on my fingers how many times the Thunder needed Westbrook to step up big, and he has. The problem is that he is playing point guard when he really should be playing shooting guard. Lets me go a bit deeper.
I do not want Westbrook to change his game. His game is aggressive and fun. Early in his career the knock was that he does not facilitate the offense. Now it is evident he wont be that kind of player. For the Thunder to succeed they need a point guard who can be a floor general. Think of Chris Paul, who runs his team without having to score a lot of points. The Clippers are good because Chris Paul can set the pace seemingly at will and it is awesome to watch. When you watch a Thunder game, does it ever feel like things are out of control? The answer is yes and the reason is because Westbrook has one pace-fast. He does not look to set the offense and does not look to set up his teammates. The point guard position is meant to run the team by setting up players and Westbrook does not do that well. You may be thinking what about Derrick Rose? He plays the exact same way. And you are right. Remember, the difference is that Derrick Rose leads his team offensively and has to. Westbrook has had plenty of offensive weapons to work around, but yet doesn’t incorporate them in the offense.
The Thunder strive off the two-man game of Durant and Westbrook. They both play this one on one basketball at the same time. The problem is that when they play teams that play good team defense like the Spurs, the Grizzlies, the Heat, etc- they no longer have an offense and when they score plays often end up looking like this:
While an extreme example it is an example none the less. In late game situations the ball is placed in Durant’s or Westbrooks hands they are then forced to make an incredible shot and time after time they produce one. Yet at the end of yesterday’s game, they lost because nobody was at the helm to run the offense. Ibaka’s turnover was a mistake, but not on his part. They where trying to set up Durant or Westbrook by not having the ball in their hands but Ibaka not being a great ball handler, gets called for a travel that ended the game for them. Had they had a point guard to facilitate, then it may have been a different outcome. This can only be done if Westbrook moves over to the two.
Do I hate Westbrook? No. I love watching his game. I just believe the Thunder are limiting their potential as a lock for the best team in the West if they do not have somebody to control the offense. In the long run I want to say it will open more scoring options for Batman and Robin. Westbrook and Durant shooting the ball 56 times combined is more attempts than the rest of the team. You can’t beat the Spurs like that. You can’t beat the Heat like that, and they have already learned both of these lessons in the last two years. Here is one more eyebrow raiser – West is 1 of 13 in the last 2 games from beyond the arch. That deserves a Jimmy Fallon “Ew“.
With all of that said,I stand by my statement that i made 4 years ago.The Thunder will never win a championship with Westbrook as their point guard. He inability to set up the offense, the amount of (let’s be honest here) ill advised shots and the inability to slow down his game when its required will prove to be a problem for this young Thunder team. If you don’t believe me, pay attention over the next couple of games to see what I am talking about. If its any consolation, remember that time Westbrook wore capri pants? No? here take a look:
Think I am crazy? Or stupid? cool. let me know by commenting or sharing or bashing the article. Enjoy watching the rest of the playoffs!