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.
This article was written by a sponsor and contributing author but I think they bring up a good topic for discussion.
Who’s to say exactly how much of a riff actually exists is between Westbrook and Durant but it’s starting to eerily remind me of the Stephon Marbury-Kevin Garnett situation in Minnesota years ago: two promising young stars that just couldn’t get along.
I avoided OKC as the trendy pick. I see them getting past Memphis but I’m not sure they can handle either Dallas or L.A. This is the NBA and the younger teams ALWAYS their lumps on their way to a championship. The Thunder haven’t had enough lumps yet.
In addition, Scotty Brooks has proven to be a great coach but this is exactly where veteran coaching comes into play: the ability to squash things between your two star players.
Your thoughts, people?
Once this series started I thought that Westbrook and Durant would entertain the fans with their exhilarating displays ! Instead we’ve seen Westbrook chucking up shots like a whore who drops her draws because a dime is thrown her way !
And the usually bold and brazen Lakers fans are awfully quiet today, Al.
Interesting. I think as the playoffs go along teams figure out how to defend the “other guys”. Durant and Westbrook are the only guys that really can create their own shot, and in half court sets they are going to take the shot more times than not. I’d chalk up some of it to some stellar defense by Memphis. They’ve done a great job on Durant keeping him from getting easy looks. I don’t know if there’s a rift between them, but who knows! I’m not in that locker room…
It’s always so tough to say what goes on behind closed doors, huh? I mean, who knows whether these two are actually getting along. How much of what we read are we to believe?
All I can tell you for sure is one thing. If the Thunder end up losing, we’ll hear more talk about the rift between Westbrook and Durant and if they win, everything will be just fine.
Agreed, if they lose, that’s all we will hear about. I think what might be a problem is if Westbrook thinks he’s better than Durant. If that’s the case, and he doesn’t see them as equals, then it will be a cialis growing type problem…
Well, Chap, egos are a funny thing, particularly when we’re dealing with athletes at this level.
Did Kareem think he was better than Magic? Vice versa? Would you ever hear Dwayne Wade say LeBron James is better than him?
None of the greatest athletes in history will ever say “HE was better than ME.” That’s not how they operate.
In the end, I guess it all depends on team chemistry. Kevin McHale would admit that Larry Bird was better at certain things and Bird would probably say the same.
Westbrook does his thing and Durant definitely does his. How far they advance will depend on how they work things out.
Either way, they’re losing in the next round to Dallas. That series might just tell how big the Westbrook-Durant rift becomes.
Again, assuming there is one.
Westbrook is shooting too many shots, that’s the issue, and last game durant didn’t take a shot for a 9 minute stretch of overtime, that’s not good basketball, you best player needs the ball, call a timeout, do something..
Here are their numbers through nine playoff games, Lisa.
Westbrook, 22.1 FGA, 8.9 FGM for 40%
Durant, 20.8 FGA, 9.7 FGM for 46.5%
You’re right on the money.
They might have enough talent to get past Memphis like that but that won’t fly against Dallas.
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