Thunder's X-Factor: The MVP Who's Not Going to Dallas

Casey WomackCorrespondent IJanuary 16, 2010

CHICAGO - JANUARY 04: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder moves the ball against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on January 4, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Thunder defeated the Bulls 98-85. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Oklahoma City Thunder has become drastically better from one year ago.  Surprise, surprise.

They have already doubled the amount of wins they had on this date one year ago.  The Ford Center continues to sell out consistently.  The media loves them. 

The team's success could easily be credited to Kevin Durant, who's having another stellar season and is looking to reach his first All-Star game.  It could also be because of Scott Brooks, who in his first full season has really pushed the Thunder to become a strong defensive team.

However, the reason for the Thunder's success so far this season is because of the sophomore point guard. 

Russell Westbrook is literally leaps and bounds ahead of his performance from last year.  But you wouldn't know it by listening to the community.  

NBA forums all over the internet continue to bash Westbrook and say he is a "turnover machine," and is only hurting Oklahoma City. 

Really? He is easily in contention to at least being brought up in discussions for having a spot of his own in Dallas.

He has carried the team all season setting up players such as KD and Jeff Green.  You could even say he is the sole reason why Nenad Krstic is still starting with their signature pick and pop play. 

He has cut down on his turnovers remarkably and it is not uncommon for him to have a game with 15 points, 10 assists, and zero turnovers.  His athletic ability to get to the basket is unbelievable and it only sets up players to be wide open on the perimeter. 

Ask Krstic, he's wide open every time from the elbow because Westbrook will drive in drawing attention from post players leaving Krstic wide open.

On the defensive end, he is finally starting to give it full effort and not be lazy on half of the opposing teams possessions.  He has a very high ceiling defensively with his insane physical tools.

Because of Westbrook, the Thunder will always have a shot against the Lakers, Mavericks, and Spurs because of the awesome mismatch he creates against their point guards. 

He has made Brandon Jennings, Derrick Fisher, Derrick Rose, and Jason Kidd all look silly just recently.  He can blow by all of them and get to the hole or find somebody wide open all game. 

Simply put, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka, and James Harden would not be having the season they are so far without Westbrook.

When Westbrook has a good game, the Thunder will win.  It has happened all season.  When he's off, it's up to KD to put the team on his shoulders and he's shown he's not Kobe-type clutch, yet .

Doesn't that make him the most valuable player on the team? Sure people will argue that Durant is easily the MVP on Oklahoma City's young roster. 

And while that may be true, the Thunder has shown that they can win when KD does not put up his numbers. It is vice-versa for when Westbrook has a bad game and dishes out a few turnovers.

Yes, he will be in Dallas for the Rookie-Sophomore game.  But if you ask my opinion, I think he'll be playing in the wrong game.