NBA Playoffs 2011: Russell Westbrook Is Slowly Turning into Stephon Marbury
Russell Westbrook has taken a lot of flak during this postseason. A lot of criticism has been deserved due to Westbrook's erratic play.
Prior to the playoffs, Westbrook played the best ball of his career, was selected to his first NBA All-Star Game, and was nominated to the All-NBA Second Team. All of the accolades that Westbrook received were very well deserved.
As Westbrook received more awards, it seemed that it may have inflated his ego. The Kendrick Perkins and Jeff Green trade was scrutinized by many people in the media. The Thunder lost a versatile player in Green and the Celtics lost their enforcer in the middle.
This trade affected both teams in many ways. In my opinion it affected the Thunder as badly as it affected the Celtics. With Green's departure, Westbrook had one less person to pass the ball to.
Perkins and Ibaka are players that can score without a coach drawing up plays for them. When you look at the Thunder's starting lineup, it's basically three defenders/role players teaming with Durant and Westbrook.
Westbrook's shoot first mentality is a gift and a curse for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Playing with Kevin Durant and the emerging James Harden, it's not necessary for Westbrook to chuck up 30 shots for them to win the game. Game 2 was an eye-opener for the future Russell Westbrook. Though he was shown cheering on the sidelines, inside he had to have an odd feeling.
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Seeing the duo of Westbrook and Durant is starting to resemble Marbury and Garnett. Marbury, like Westbrook, was an all-world point guard who played at a very high level. Though their stats may say they averaged 20 points and eight assists a game, the impact on the court is a lot different.
Both players have trouble making their teammates better and controlling the game as a point guard.
Westbrook has yet to master when he picks and chooses his spots, and when to be aggressive. There is nothing wrong with being a shoot-first point guard, but when Kevin Durant is your teammate, it's your job to give him the ball.
Durant does not have the personality of Garnett. He will not demand the ball. Westbrook will only get away with this for so long. Eric Maynor proved in Game 2 that he can run the team in an efficient fashion. While Maynor was on the floor, his +/- was plus 11 and Westbrook's was a team-low minus 12.
Westbrook's play will determine his future with the Thunder. The front office is very high on Westbrook, but at the same time he has to know his role on the court.
This is almost the same exact situation the Minnesota Timberwolves Front Office faced with Stephon Marbury. They never questioned his ability, but they figured out that he was not the perfect fit when playing with Kevin Garnett.
Russell Westbrook has to find his niche' and realize that there is only one Batman on the team and that is Kevin Durant. If he does not accept the role he will be looking for a home in a new NBA city.
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