July 8, 19
Before I get into this I would like to clarify that this is strictly about Russell on the court, I don’t care how you feel about how the man is off it.
The way Russell plays on the court is a relic of how basketball used to be. This freakish athleticism of his may be what always handicapped him in growth, but it just seems like an excuse, when you look at want is happing in Milwaukee with Giannis Antetokounmpo and his drive to complete his game.
Westbook lives by two philosophies ‘shoot your shot not the best shot’ and ‘accumulate stats by quantity not quality’. It’s no surprise that he he has lost two All-NBA talents in five years due to the fact that being his teammate you’re unable to get a rhythm in the game.
They have no idea what mood their point guard is in—one game he’ll look for the extra pass, one game he’ll push the tempo, one game he’ll decide that he can shoot 3’s. In reality, I’d rather have Joel Embid take that shot.
If you look at how the NBA is transitioning over these past couple of years, it’s about ball movement, selfless stats, and empowering your bench.
Russell Westbrook has decided that his way is the only way—Oklahoma City can play basketball based on how he feels that night.
Sam Presti, the General Manger, has chosen him over and over again and they have nothing to show for it. When you look at how they decided to dispose of their big three (Westbrook, Harden, Durant), I don’t understand how Presti got it soooo wrong.
It all started when they decided to pay Serge Ibaka over James Harden and traded Harden over to the Rockets in 2012.
Hindsight being 20/20—Westbrook is clearly in his decline. (You can tell this, not by looking at the stats on paper, but simply from the eye test that you get from watching 48 minutes of a regular season game.) And Harden is coming off a MVP season in 2018 being barely edged for MVP of the league in 2019.
Durant decided to leave for Golden State in 2016 after losing a 3-1 advantage in the Western Conference finals. When you look back at that series, Russell Westbrook refused to defer to Durant and threw up bad shot after bad shot, deciding he was the guy to move the franchise forward to the NBA Finals.
I don’t know if he’s blind by his limitations because of his ego or more worried about what people are yelling at him in the stands.
I know the casual NBA fan is reading this and thinking well Durant left and he got NBA MVP the next year and average the first triple double since Oscar Robinson. COOL DUDE. He achieved that by going 100 mph and being the only point guard in the league boxing out during free throws. Effort has never been the issue for this guy. It’s his lack of awareness and basketball IQ.
One year after losing Durant they acquired Paul George and made the Thunder a respectable team in the west, due to their height and defensive tenacity.
They had regular season success until it was time to play real basketball in the playoffs, going home in the first round losing to the Jazz in 2018 and the Blazers in 2019.
If you could bottle up the Westbrook experience it would be Game 5 vs. the Blazers with 20 seconds left in the 4th tied 115-115.
Westbook declared an isolation play instead of giving it to the best player on his team, Paul George, letting him take the shot. As we all know, he missed and Damien Lillard, the best player on the Blazers, sank a shot from 35 feet to win the series. Leaving the ownership, management, and fan base wondering how they got it so wrong, placing their faith in a player who clearly only cares about himself.
I’m writing this less than 24 hours from Paul George getting traded to the Clippers after George asked for a trade a couple days ago. Another Westbrook experiment failed, leaving the future unknown for the Thunder.
Good luck Oklahoma City fans. If I were you, I’d hope Sam Presti can finally learn from his mistakes and cut bait from a guy who cares more about his outfit than playoff success.