Is Russell Westbrook Shooting His Way Out of Oklahoma City?

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Is Russell Westbrook Shooting His Way Out of Oklahoma City?
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

In the past few weeks, Russell Westbrook has gone from the toast of Oklahoma City and one of the true darlings of the NBA to the most criticized player in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.

The source of the venom being spewed in his general vicinity, the correlating factor in this situation, is as simple as the act of shooting a basketball, and as complex as attempting to draw substantial conclusions in regards to his mental disposition by examining the expressions on his face.

Westbrook's field goal attempts are up nearly four per game from his regular season average. His on-court demeanor slipped—or elevated, depending on your viewpoint—to nothing short of vicious, as his competitiveness and his fire have taken over under the bright lights of playoff basketball.

The former, an issue mostly—and perhaps solely—due to the fact that Kevin Durant's shot total has not increased, meaning Westbrook is actually outshooting the NBA's scoring champ. The latter, disconcerting because of the potential for a power struggle that results in a breakup. 

The fallout has landed the majority of Thunder fans in one of three categories:

1. Westbrook resents Durant. He wants to be "the man." He's imposing his will. It's an ego thing.

2. Westbrook is still transitioning from a combo guard to a point guard. Be patient. It's nothing personal. He's just growing.

3. Westbrook is playing for a contract. (This is an especially stupid theory, given the fact that he's a virtual lock to receive maximum dollars from Sam Presti. If anything, creating doubt that he is willing to defer to Durant only hurts his negotiating position with the Thunder.)

    As with any story, there are two sides to this one. For the past month I've found myself flip-flopping numerous times. In the last couple of days I have decided how I feel. But before I divulge such information, allow me to clear up the debate itself.

    All "Rise (Together)."

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