By Justin Patrick @calling_allfans on May 22, 2014
The Oklahoma City Thunder are down 2-0 to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals after losing the game Wednesday night. The Seattle Supersonics (now the Thunder) drafted Kevin Durant with the second overall pick in 2007 and Russell Westbrook with the fourth overall pick in 2008. For at least the last few years fans and critics have said that Durant and Westbrook cannot coexist. Here are five reasons that might be the case.
Westbrook is certainly athletic and quick enough to get past almost anyone in the NBA, but as a PG, he should not be taking more shots than Durant. Durant was the NBA’s MVP this season and has won four scoring titles. As talented as Westbrook is, Durant needs a PG who will get him the ball more, especially in the playoffs because at this point, it is all about winning a title for Durant, Westbrook and the Thunder.
Durant, who seems to be one of the nicest guys in the NBA (did you see his MVP speech?!), needs to demand the ball more. The Thunder continually use Durant as a decoy. That is crazy. He was the MVP this season and he has four scoring titles! Durant may be too nice and humble for his own good. If Durant played with a PG who was a passer first and a shooter second (unlike Russell), Durant may start to understand he needs to be more aggressive.
This is just a fact. Durant has a higher field goal percentage (including from three-point range) and averages more points and assists when Westbrook is not on the floor. When Russell is on the floor, the game plan should be the same—get the ball to Durant, but Russell feels he can take over a game (and sometimes he can). When Russell shoots 25+ times and Durant has fewer attempts than that, that is an issue.
While he’s one of the better PGs in the NBA, Russell needs to realize his place on the Thunder is behind Durant. Westbrook needs to play Robin to Durant’s Batman, just like Dwyane Wade realized once LeBron James joined the Miami Heat. Maybe the fact they are the same age makes this impossible. Durant entered the NBA only one year before Westbrook. Maybe Westbrook is too alpha and will only defer to someone who is older.
At UCLA, Westbrook mainly played off the ball and was a scorer. The Thunder then made him a PG after they drafted him. Westbrook has a scorer’s mentality. Normally that wouldn’t be a bad thing, but Durant needs a pure PG—a distributor in order to allow himself to become more aggressive and reach his full potential.
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