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  • 05/26/2011, 03:42AM ET

The Durant-Westbrook issue

J-Business (78-66-19) vs Kyukfan (17-25-4)
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The supposed "rift" between Westbrook not accepting the 1A role to Durant's #1 role is OKC's biggest obstacle to being a perennial contender.

In theory, their team seems to be set. They have a superstar in Durant
A 2nd tier star in Westbrook.
A decent center in Perkins
A 3rd scorer in James Harden.
Good coach with Brooks and also a good fan base.

Even if it started as a media invention, there is some truth there.

Westbrook makes too many bad plays and takes too many shots.

There's also precedent with previous good young teams.

Dallas Mavericks with Jason Kidd, Mashburn and Jimmy Jackson. They allowed internal problems to bring the team down.

Washington Bullets with a young Webber, Juwan Howard and Rod Strickland

In the early 2000's the Clippers had a nice young nucleus that they couldn't keep together.

The history of the NBA is filled with young teams who could've, would've, should've of but they didn't because of a clash between players.

If Westbrook isn't able to fully accept Durant as being the undisputed top player, OKC will never reach their potential.


The Thunders biggest obstacle is the lack of a veteran presence on the floor. Durant is a class act don't get me wrong however Westbrook has really shown his immaturity both by his attitude and the number of times he shoots the ball and his FG%.

Westbrook is out of position. He is a SG. He turns the ball over way too much, actually lead the league with 3.9 turnovers per game, and has only so so assist numbers. Which aren't great once you consider all the turnovers.

Durant, Harden, and Westbrook are great scorers but at times look one dimensional like Carmelo. Great scorers but not much else. Defensivesly they have some bring spots like the up and coming Ibaka but they allowed 101 points a game which was 18th in the league. Not the worst but could defiantly improve. This is opposed to their offense which was 5th in the league. Defense wins championships.

So I don't believe Westbrook and Durant's chemistry is a problem for the Thunder. I think it's:

1. Lack of veteran leadershp
2. Lack of great defensive players
3. Lack of true PG
4. Young one dimensional scorers


Let's look at your points
"1. Lack of veteran leadership"
OKC may be young but they are not a team that's fresh out of college. Perkins has a title and their other players have playoff experience.

"2. Lack of great defensive players"
Sefolosha, Ibaka and Perkins are very good defensive players.
Their defense is ranked low because their offense runs a lot and provides a lot extra possessions.

"3. Lack of true PG"
This is overrated. There are only a few true PG's in the league and this isn't necessary to win a title.
Also Westbrook averaged 8 assists a game

"4. Young one dimensional scorers"
Durant is the most dynamic scorer in the league. He can shoot, he can drive and he can blend the two. Westbrook can drive and score and has developed a jump shot.

You're only relevant point is #1 and that will come in time.

The issues between Durant and Westbrook is the real threat here.

Westbrook is the PG. This involves him setting up Durant at the most important points of the game, not taking a shot with 16 secs on the shot clock.

If what a teammate said "Westbrook thinks he's as good or better than Durant", than OKC has a major problem brewing.


Let's look at your counter-argument 1: Some playoff experience and one ring on a team doesn't veteran leadership make. They are a very young team. The Mavs beat them purely because the Thunder are immature and the Mavs played good defense.

counter-argument 2: Sefolosha is a good on ball defender. Ibaka is a great shoot blocker. I will give you him. However at times Perkins is only a so-so defender. Especially against other bigs he was being taken to town. The frontcourt is defiantly a weakness. Perkins helped but no enough.

counter-argument 3: Westbrook turns the ball over way too much. It's because he plays better without the ball constantly being in his hands. He averaged 8 assists a game however he had really good offensive tools. His turnovers per game really showed that he makes bad decisions with the ball. He needs to be at the 2.

counter-argument 4: I really wasn't clear about this and I'm sorry. I meant that they score and don't play good defense. I meant they are one dimensional as they only play good offensively.

This argument is really played up by the media. Durant and Westbrook knows whose team it is.


Th Durant-Westbrook issue may have started out as a media creation but it's built on very real issues. Here are some specific points.

1. Screaming match with coaches on the sideline after being taken out

2. The one game OKC won this series was when Brooks sat Westbrook on the bench and ran the offense through Maynor. Not good.

3. Bad body language

4. Very bad shots late in the 4th qtr

5. He makes a lot less than Durant and I'm sure a team will make him a big offer

6. The dinner at Durant's home (Memphis series)
With OKC down 1 game, Perkins asked Durant to host a dinner at his home. The main point was: this is your team

Durant is the obvious superstar but at times in the game, Westbrook is the one forcing shots and looking to be the main focus. So obviously he doesn't really believe that it's "Durant's team".

If OKC is expected to progress and become a much better team, Westbrook has to embrace the role of being more of a facilitator and PG for the team.

OKC has the potential to be one of the best teams but they have to figure out a way for Durant and Westbrook to coexist.
History has shown that this could be a problem.


Forfeited Turn

Comment #1 has been removed
May 26, 2011  08:35 AM ET

Couldn't agree more

May 26, 2011  08:39 AM ET

Perkins needs to go. Maynor needs to realize he isn't Magic Johnson.

May 26, 2011  08:39 AM ET

What am I suppose to arguing exactly? :/

May 26, 2011  08:58 AM ET
QUOTE(#4):

What am I suppose to arguing exactly? :/

Other potential problems that are bigger obstacles to the Durant-Westbrook rift.

May 26, 2011  09:06 AM ET
QUOTE(#3):

Perkins needs to go. Maynor needs to realize he isn't Magic Johnson.

Perkins needs to go? R U C-eerie-ous?

May 26, 2011  09:07 AM ET
QUOTE(#5):

Other potential problems that are bigger obstacles to the Durant-Westbrook rift.

Well I guess I kinda argued that. Sorry it was kinda unclear. I thought you just wanted problems with the Thunder. Yet those problems could be obstacles in the rift as well so I guess I'm ok lol.

May 26, 2011  09:08 AM ET
QUOTE(#6):

Perkins needs to go? R U C-eerie-ous?

Apparently he is. Without Perkins that frontcourt is looking mighty slim.

May 26, 2011  09:46 AM ET

1. Lack of veteran leadership
2. Lack of great defensive players
3. Lack of true PG
4. Young one dimensional scorers

IMO only #3 is true.

For #1 you have Perkins who is a champion, Collison, Durants been in the league 4 years now and led the league in scoring 2x.

For #2 again you have Perkins, Ibaka, Sefolosha and even Collison are all good defenders.

For #4 Durant and Harden aren't one dimensional scorers. Westbrook is an attacker so he is a little one dimensional.

I think trading Westbrook for a true PG would be good for the Thunder. He is a great player but does not play well with Durant.

May 26, 2011  09:51 AM ET
QUOTE(#9):

1. Lack of veteran leadership2. Lack of great defensive players3. Lack of true PG4. Young one dimensional scorersIMO only #3 is true. For #1 you have Perkins who is a champion, Collison, Durants been in the league 4 years now and led the league in scoring 2x. For #2 again you have Perkins, Ibaka, Sefolosha and even Collison are all good defenders.For #4 Durant and Harden aren't one dimensional scorers. Westbrook is an attacker so he is a little one dimensional. I think trading Westbrook for a true PG would be good for the Thunder. He is a great player but does not play well with Durant.

#1 Collision isn't a leader by no means.

#2 They obviously aren't jelling together or something. Collison in my opinion is not a decent defender. The only really good defender is Ibaka and Sefolosha. As a whole they aren't a good defense. They are in the bottom half.

#4 I meant one dimensional as in they are only good scoreres not great defensively or in other areas.

Comment #11 has been removed
May 26, 2011  10:37 AM ET
QUOTE(#11):

Huge overreaction. They make it to the Conference Finals and get beat by a better team. This team will be a constant threat for a number of years if they can keep this nucleus intact.

Keeping their nucleus in tact will be very difficult if the issues between Durant and Westbrook continue.

May 26, 2011  11:18 AM ET

I don't get the continuous scrutinizing of Westbrook, when Durant hasn't shot well this entire series. He didn't take advantage of his height against defenders like Kidd and and tried to drive on him and got ripped by him on a regular basis. He could have posted smaller defenders on him...if he had a post-up game.

This was their first time in this situation, however, so I don't think they should be criticized THAT much. I do wonder if Westbrook could be a top tier point for this team, however. But they are just 22 years old. The fact that they made it this far in only their second year in the playoffs at that age is rather remarkable.

May 26, 2011  11:22 AM ET

Kidd has a strong frame and is a good defender for Durant. He doesn't have blazing speed and he is very weak. Kidd just held his position and played great D on him.

I think a CP3 or a pass first PG would be great for the Thunder. Or get a true PG in the draft and move Westbrook to the 2.

May 26, 2011  11:33 AM ET
QUOTE(#10):

#1 Collision isn't a leader by no means. #2 They obviously aren't jelling together or something. Collison in my opinion is not a decent defender. The only really good defender is Ibaka and Sefolosha. As a whole they aren't a good defense. They are in the bottom half. #4 I meant one dimensional as in they are only good scoreres not great defensively or in other areas.

I'll give you point #1 as Collison is a role player--however he does provide a veteran presence that OKC desperately needs.

However, he's not even a "decent defender"? Dirk has been unguardable at times this year, but I didn't see many times that Collison got beat---Dirk was just playing out of his mind. Collison actually played great defense---poking the ball away, tying Dirk up, taking charges--even the ESPN announcers noted it quite a bit. And the season stats mostly reflect having Kristic and Green as defenders--not Perkins. If he had been with the team for most or all of the season, OKC would have ranked much higher in team defense.

Westbrook is a ball hog and shoots way too many jump shots for someone that isn't a great shooter. But he rebounds great for a guard (5.3 per 40) and distributes well (9.4 dimes per 40), and is a good defender.
http://espn.go.com/nba/player/hollinger/_/id/3468/russell-westbrook

May 26, 2011  11:38 AM ET

Westbrook might not be the only reason they lost the series but he's an obstacle. The guy looks shady to me. I pray he doesn't go to the Lakers under any circumstance.

It's Durant's team. Westbrook better get used to that or he wont be there for too long.

May 26, 2011  11:45 AM ET
QUOTE(#14):

Kidd has a strong frame and is a good defender for Durant. He doesn't have blazing speed and he is very weak. Kidd just held his position and played great D on him. I think a CP3 or a pass first PG would be great for the Thunder. Or get a true PG in the draft and move Westbrook to the 2.

True, one would just figure that a guy that's around '6'10', '6'11', would find better options of letting Kidd bother him. Nothing against Kidd, he's one of the best defensive guards this league has ever seen, but he is 38 years old....

Maybe Durant can benefit from a Dwight Howard Bodylifting Training Camp this summer....You saw how Howard Bulked up from his rookie year.....

Comment #18 has been removed
May 26, 2011  12:45 PM ET
QUOTE(#18):

Roids.

No way.

 
May 26, 2011  12:47 PM ET
QUOTE(#11):

Huge overreaction. They make it to the Conference Finals and get beat by a better team. This team will be a constant threat for a number of years if they can keep this nucleus intact.

I live in Oklahoma. My co-workers and I all watched the game last night separately and then discussed this very thing first thing this morning and we all came to the same conclusion. Trade Westbrook for a true PG. THAT is the missing link.

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