Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant Can’t Do It All Without Russell Westbrook

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

In a great night of sports on a cold Saturday, Kevin Durant was busy putting up 48 points on the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 115-111 win for the Oklahoma City ThunderThe win saved OKC from losing three straight games. Durant got the team back on the winning track when he hit the go-ahead bucket with four seconds remaining in the game. He also put up 23 points in the final quarter.

As much damage as Durant did, the Timberwolves really hurt themselves in this one. Kevin Love went to the line to shoot three free throws after Durant hit that big shot, and uncharacteristically miss the first two, forcing him to purposely miss the final attempt. Well, he wound up missing the rim completely. So, it is safe to say that OKC would have been in trouble if it were not for Durant’s monster game.

The truth is that the Thunder has struggled all around since Russell Westbrook had his third surgery within nine months. It is no surprise that they are having trouble adjusting because Westbrook is a big piece to their puzzle. Any team would have trouble if they lost a player of that caliber.

Durant was honored as the NBA‘s December Player of the Month earlier in the week. It will not be the last time he earns those accolades as he continues to play the best ball of his career thus far. He will need some more help if OKC is going to be successful without Westbrook.

It is tough to say that Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb have been struggling because even when they only score 9-10 points, it is still a big contribution especially when you have a few other role players scoring 6-8 points in limited minutes. I guess everyone is expecting these guys to go out there every night and put up 15 to 20 points. It is just not that easy for these young players during their first year of accumulating solid minutes on the court.

The one player who does need to step it up a bit is Serge Ibaka. If he can put up 15-20 points instead of Jackson and Lamb, then OKC will be able to put it in cruise control even without Westbrook. Regardless, they could always fall back on KD. Everything falls behind him, and that is why this team will always have a fighting chance. When your leader is constantly in the MVP conversation, you are in good hands.

Brian Anderson is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrAnderson035 “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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  • jatreat13

    You’re right, the Thunder will struggle after losing their starting point guard, Reggie Jackson is a good player and will help with filling in but the loss creates major problems in schemes and depth. The problem I have with this article is that you downplay what Durant has been doing in Westbrook’s absence. He’s completely gone to another level with his scoring, its amazing. If any team loses their starting PG they’re going to struggle but don’t downplay what Durant has been doing because it’s BEAST

    • Brian Anderson

      The focus here wasn’t on Durant’s play really. I’ve written plenty of articles praising KD’s excellent play. He’s the league MVP hands down in my opinion. P.S. – I’m a huge Thunder fan

      • jatreat13

        Yeah I know the title is just what kinda got me because personally I think Durant can put this team on his back and keep them winning a high percentage of games.

        • Brian Anderson

          The title implies that Kevin Durant IS doing it all but that it isn’t the best formula for winning without Westbrook. Durant will get his no matter what, but the role players have to be more consistent. My next article focuses on what they need to do to win and that’s have a more balanced attack. It isn’t up yet but will be soon if you want to check it out. Sorry for the confusion, I appreciate you commenting.

          • jatreat13

            Yeah man and I like the article and the conversation about a westbrooklessThunder team. I just think Durant should have a legit chance at mvp so when I see headlines that say what Kevin can’t do I get a little irked because I know how much media drives public perceptions. Sorry about being critical just a big thunder/kd fan. Ill definitely check out out your next article.

          • Brian Anderson

            No problem and thanks. I’ve been a Sonics/Thunder fan since Gary Payton’s second year in the league. I’m a a huge fan who stuck with this team through the bad years in both cities. Trust me, if I could, I would praise the Thunder constantly. Never saying a bad word about them but it is my job here to call it as straight down the middle as I can and no team or player is perfect.

  • Farva55

    Kevin Durant is a man-beast. IMO, the MVP this year. But no one can do it alone. I still fail to understand the Harden trade. Should have amnestied Perkins who makes big baby seem mature.