Many people made Oklahoma City the trendy pick to replace the Los Angeles Lakers as the team to come out of the Western Conference, and they still could as the Lakers are down two games to none going to Dallas, while the Thunder are tied at one on their way to Memphis. But one major thing they’re going to have to watch is a situation that is gaining steam in which their best player isn’t taking the most shots on the team, and they have to get through to their point guard, quickly.
The Thunder got past the Nuggets in five games, but their basketball spread is going to get lower if the current shot trend continues. During the regular season, Kevin Durant, the league’s leading scorer, averaged 19.7 shots while Russell Westbrook was next with 17.0 points, but Westbrook is making sure he gets his in the postseason as he closed the gap against Denver, hoisting up 20.2 shots to 20.8 for Durant, and he had more shots in three of the five games. It’s continuing against the Grizzlies as Westbrook is averaging 21.5 shots, while Durant is putting up 19.5. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if the shooting percentages were so far apart, but Durant is shooting 47.6% from the floor (including 47.7% from three-point land), while Westbrook is hitting 40.3% of his shots (including 33.3% from beyond the arc). Westbrook’s turnovers have also gone up from the regular season, from 3.9 to 4.4, and his assist-to-turnover ratio has gone down from 1.8 to 1.4.
Oklahoma City continues to win in spite of this, but their job would be a lot easier if Westbrook made better decisions with the ball, and that includes getting the ball as much as possible to Durant, who is much more efficient. Of course, we have to give credit to the opposition for playing defense on Durant, but Westbrook has to be a little more patient when he’s waiting for his teammate to get open. Westbrook is Robin, and Durant is Batman: when that is realized, the Thunder are going to be tough to beat.