Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are currently two of the NBA's most recognizable names. This is for a multitude of reasons, mainly that they are two of the best offensive players in the NBA. Recently, however, their names have been tossed around as another pair of NBA superstars who, like countless guys before them, cannot play on the same team together.
The lack of basketball cohesiveness really showed in the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. Westbrook was taking wild shots from all over the floor (hitting lots of them, but hogging), and Durant simply wasn't getting the touches he should. Not that the blame goes to Westbrook entirely, for Durant looked out of sync at times and also took crazy shots when he got rattled. The two of them just did not share the ball well during that series, and it ultimately led to the Thunder's downfall.
This is not a Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O'Neal scenario. These two guys have nothing but respect for one another. The problem simply lies in the fact that they both believe they are the best offensive threat on the court at all times. (Sorry Russell, you lose that one by far.)
Since this problem is not a personal issue between the two of them, it should be very easy for them to work it out. It only requires a little patience from both of them.
Here are four reasons why Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook can and will coexist in the future.
Simply put, aside from being one of the best basketball players in the world, Kevin Durant might be the most high character player in the NBA. I don't think there should be any dispute about that. He never has anything negative to say about anyone, never gets in trouble on or off the court, and often takes the blame on his own shoulders, even when something really is his teammates' fault.
Kevin Durant can coexist with Russell Westbrook because he is willing to do whatever he needs to for the sake of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He knows he doesn't have to make a stink about not getting enough touches; as the NBA's best offensive player, the coaches will take care of that for him.
He will never ignite this into a personal issue between him and Russell Westbrook, which is why this problem will be worked out in time.
The issue, as has been discussed, is that Westbrook and Durant are having trouble with offensive cohesion; mainly they can't share the ball well. Odd for two guys who are among the best offensive players in the entire NBA.
It doesn't make much sense, considering that outside of James Harden these two are the only real offensive weapons on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins are defensive beasts and certainly do not demand touches, so sharing the ball between the two of them should not be that big of a deal.
Westbrook thinks he is better than Durant, which has to be coached out of him with some serious tough love. Russell Westbrook is a heck of a player, but he is light years behind Kevin Durant.
Eventually, Westbrook will realize that instead of taking 30 shots for 30 points while Durant shoots 18-of-30, he can take 15 shots for 20 points, and let Durant score 50 while racking up a few assists, like a POINT GUARD is supposed to.
Any player in their right mind wants to play for the Oklahoma City Thunder right now. They are one of the youngest and most complete teams in the NBA, and will be title contenders for the foreseeable future. Obviously, that means nobody on the team wants to depart either.
However, that might be exactly what happens to Russell Westbrook if he and Kevin Durant can't play with better cohesion. As soon as discussion about the pair's basketball compatibility started, trade speculation for Westbrook ran rampant.
It is more than clear that Durant isn't going anywhere; he is easily one of the league's very best, which coupled with his age, character, and health makes him completely un-tradeable.
Westbrook, despite his immense talent, CAN be replaced. The Thunder would much rather keep him in the fold, but if it becomes clearly unworkable they will trade him away.
If he wants to remain on the Thunder, he'll learn to play nice with his buddy.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are a very young team. Even with their youth, they made it to Game 5 of the conference finals against the eventual NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks.
These guys are only going to get better as time goes on, and they have a much better chance of winning an NBA title if they work together than either of them would on most other teams. Clearly, after two consecutive deep playoff runs, they are capable of making a play for the title. The only thing that stopped them from going up against the Miami Heat (besides Dirk Nowitzki's godlike clutch performance) was a lack of offensive chemistry.
If they learn to fix that, and if Westbrook learns to pass in late game situations, the Oklahoma City Thunder will win a title within the next three years,
Every NBA player wants to win a title, and these guys will fix the problems they have on the court for the sake of winning an NBA Championship.