We all know the Thunder Buddies are a force to be reckoned with in the NBA, but for the most part, Kevin Durant was looked at as Batman and Russell Westbrook as Robin. Westbrook has been given grief for his assertiveness on the court and not deferring the league MVP Kevin Durant when needed. Well, possibly we have gotten it all wrong about Westbrook. Yes he is an alpha dog with uncontainable skills that can dominate a game or shoot you out of a game, but maybe the Thunder need to have the ball in his hands more often to win. Maybe he is the Batman of this team and not Durant….
Westbrook has been on a crazy tear with Durant out of the line up this year due to injury. He has had 6 triple-doubles in the last 8 games and is averaging 32.9 points, 11.1 assists and 10.1 rebounds in 36.3 minutes per game since the All-Star break, a run of individual brilliance that’s allowed a Thunder squad to stay afloat in the Western playoff chase. Currently fighting for the 8th and final spot in the West, Westbrook has literally taken the team on his back and willing his way into the playoffs.
Because of his outstanding play, he is now in consideration for the MVP award. On the year he is averaging 27.5 ppg, 8.4 apg, 7.3 rpg, and a per of 29.72. That is better than all the other MVP candidates this year and around the same numbers Lebron averaged each of his MVP seasons! Now the talk is all about how great Westbrook is and do the Thunder really need Durant.. Woah, let’s slow down people.
This period in Westbrook’s career is great for himself but even greater for the Thunder, especially Kevin Durant. We all know that Durant is neck and neck with Lebron James as the best player in the NBA, but Durant will not win a title without Westbrook. Case in point, look at the 2013 playoffs, the Thunder got past James Harden and the Rockets in the first round (Rockets first year in the playoffs with Harden mind you) but got destroyed by the Grizzlies without Westbrook in the second round. Then last year, with Westbrook back, but not fully healthy, they made it to the conference finals once again, but lost to the Spurs because they just played two-man ball with Durant and Westbrook.
However, what is different now is that without Durant in the lineup, Westbrook is learning how to lead and trust his teammates. We know that Westbrook is always in attack mode, but now his aggressiveness is more controlled as he is creating for his teammates and trusting that they can help get the job done. That is HUGE!! Now when Durant comes back, he knows he doesn’t always have to defer to him, and Durant can believe that Westbrook will make the best decision on the court whether he is attacking or distributing.
As we talk about on Phirst Contention, there could be a rift for the organization on whether to keep both players, especially as Westbrook continues to rise. However, if they can win a championship this year or next, then they can have a better opportunity of keeping both of them in OKC. They both love each other like brothers and are a lot closer than people think, so there is no doubt they want to continue to play with each other. Winning cures all however, so once that happens, breaking up Durant and Westbrook wouldn’t even be a discussion..