It is never easy for two stars to set aside their egos and play alongside each other. The Miami Heat were able to make it work thanks to maturity and respect amongst Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James. The fame and spotlight were too much to keep Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant together and the two future NBA Hall of Famers went there separate ways.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have seen both sides of the coin. They could have had one of the best trios basketball has ever seen, but James Harden wanted to make a name for himself, he wanted to lead his own team. At times, it has seemed that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook would follow in Harden’s footsteps. The two have had their share of disagreements and issues with one another and it all usually boils down to one thing, the basketball.
Both players are fantastic young stars who will entertain the basketball universe for the foreseeable future, but both want to be “the man.” Heck, when each player is averaging 18 shots per game, it’s tough for anyone to get theirs and that is the problem. Durant and Westbrook are the type of players that need the ball in their hands to be a force. Westbrook needs the ball to either score off the dribble or assist a teammate. He isn’t going to catch off the pass and knock down the 18-footer or the three-pointer, that’s not who he is. Durant is the same way, except he isn’t going to give the Thunder as much of a passing option as Westbrook. Durant is a scorer from anywhere on the court. He will give you the occasional catch-and-shoot, but he creates most of his opportunities off the dribble.
The two have learned to play with each other over time, however, there are those moments when it becomes a tug-of-war between them. Such as the last shot of a game or leading a late-game charge, Durant and Westbrook both want the ball, but only one can have it. I will say that they have become a great duo and Westbrook has matured. They displayed that Thursday night against the Chicago Bulls. Durant had a game-high 32 points with nine rebounds and six assists and Westbrook added a double-double of 20 points and 10 assists. The Thunder got an easy victory over the disembodied Bulls, 107-95.
Westbrook has become more of a true point guard than a shooting guard. I believe that as his maturity grows, his understanding of his role grows as well. He could easily leave Oklahoma and become a star for another team, but his best bet is beside Durant. Like a fine wine or leftover lasagna, time will do these two well and turn them into an even better duo.