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Former UCLA star Russell Westbrook
The biggest unequivocal threat to the Lakers in the Western Conference is the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The upstart Thunder are an absolute joy to watch via their college-like atmosphere at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
In addition, the tandem of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook make up arguably the most explosive twosome in the game today.
Despite that, they have some problems that could prevent an NBA Finals appearance.
Russell Westbrook, understand something: This is Kevin Durant's team. Not yours.
In this equation, you're Robin. Not Batman. Your over-exuberance in crunch time leads to turnovers and stagnant offensive play.
Westbrook is a wonderful talent with immense upside and skill. However, his propensity to dominate the ball and take a high volume of shots is incredibly detrimental to the team.
Many times late in games, the explosive Westbrook will look to take the game over. He often takes wild, contested shots while Durant floats around the perimeter, completely uninvolved.
In order for OKC to make it to the finals, Westbrook needs to play second fiddle to Durant. With his ego, I'm not sure he's capable of doing so.
Against the Lakers, it's imperative that he facilitates the ball more effectively then he's currently doing. On pick-and-roll situations, the Lakers will look to smother him with their immense length.
When pressured, Westbrook often makes ill-advised passes which inevitably lead to turnovers. Also, the Lakers finally have a quick, athletic player who can guard Westbrook in Ramon Sessions.
With Sessions in the fold, Westbrook won't live in the lane and kill the Lakers like he's done in the past.