What Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Thunder Rotation Must Fix Next Season

Luke JohnsonContributor IIINovember 16, 2011

What Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Thunder Rotation Must Fix Next Season

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    Go ahead and keep that straight face Russell. That aloof sort of I'm-too-sexy starry eyed gaze.

    Because now that you and your partnas decided it best to sue the league on behalf of your ridiculous cause, you'll be doing a lot of that.

    Study time: class now in session. First lesson: Dress to Impress.

    Is this the Street Ball Association or a Professional League for multi-million dollar businessmen?

    Look how ironic the above picture is. Russell in his childish garb with a grade school back pack at a meeting that could mean his job? And all he can muster is a baggy red sweat shirt?

    Notice the man to his left. A professional with tight wire glasses, edgy yet classic and sexy shirt and tie, tacked on with an astute sensibility.

    No surprise the title count is as listed: Rondo 1, Westbrook 0.

    Now get back to work Russell! Earn your right to re-participate in the sport you think you own. Grab your teammates and lead the way as a point guard ought to.

Russell Westbrook, Starting Point Guard, Shot Selection and Ball Control

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    I'm going to continue this merry go round of fabulous and ridiculous photos to make my point when it comes to fourth-year point guard, Russell Westbrook.

    And to no surprise I will lead the lesson with another component of the Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett.

    Before KG came to Boston in 2007, he was alongside Tim Duncan, the best power forward in hoops, a one-time MVP, ultimate defender, first-team All NBA, consummate all star and God in Minnesota.

    But he was lacking one thing, a ring.

    So he did as all good natured and mature stars do, give up the hype. And in love of Shaq's cheesy Hollywood career, shazaam! The gold O'Brien came sprinting without ever looking back.

    KG is now not only a star, but a superstar. He is a top-fifteen player of all time with the infamous trophy to point to when others question his heralds.

    But Russell, not so much.

    This is the pros. This is not a slow learning curve in the College game, where coaches, tutors, beer and girlfriends walk you to soft and cushy classes on maturation. Get in or Get out.

    Last post season proved Russell is not there yet. He needs help with ball control. His 4.0 turnovers a game can be attributed to his out of control nature and erratic shot selection.

    If a 20-foot hurdle of tanks stood in Russell's way he'd try and jump over them. But now it's time to quit the circus and get on with manhood.

    Pass the ball, get Durant involved, run the offense and shut your mouth Russell. And then we might consider you an elite point guard.  

Kevin Durant, Starting Small Forward, Weight and Strength

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    Searching for a flaw in the impeccable game of Kevin Durant is like having a make-believe issue with the booty of Kim Kardashian.

    It is crazy really. Lunacy! A delirium I fear will lead to memory loss and insanity.

    But in all seriousness, I think Candy Kim could throw down KD in an arm wrestling contest. The man is so muscularly insecure he makes a person hosting a ten foot tape worm look fat as Roseanne.

    Put the poor kid on a trucker's diet. Grits in the morning, butter, toast, red meat, butter, red meat, whole milk shaken with protein powder and then do it again and again and again. 

    Something please, anything! If you have to inject a syringe filled with fat cells into his concave chest than do it.


    I feel uneasy rooting for someone with the body of a 12-year old school girl. It is inappropriate. And for that I feel ashamed.

James Harden, Starting Shooting Guard, Lacking Identity and Consistency

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    I finally figured out what bugs me so much about James Harden: the beard.

    As perfectly off-beat as the beard has become in our skinny jean culture, the Amish converted Malcolm X look does him in. We think he's older than he is. Some wise old veteran with tales to tell. But entirely untrue.

    The third-year combo guard is only two seasons old and still searching for his identity. He's like a two-year-old in the NBA's sandbox still unsure about the frozen tootsie roll he stuck in his mouth.

    Despite a jump in his minutes and numbers last season, Harden is inconsistent. His shot percentage was rather low at 43.6 percent. He sat out and fired at far too high a rate from three point range.

    One night he was attacking the rim and the other playing hot potato. Which James is the true one? We hope the first.

Serge Ibaka, Starting Power Forward, Confidence and Foul Trouble

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    Serge Ibaka made the largest jump of any player last year for OKC. Starting 44 games compared to zero the season before, proved Ibaka is becoming a focal point in Scott Brooks' system.

    A human fly swatter, Ibaka's improved minutes meant more of his reckoning on the defensive side of the ball. He blocked 2.4 shots per game and grabbed 7.6 rebounds.

    Most untouched is his offensive game. Gifted with a face up ten to fifteen foot jump shot, immense vertical and soft half hook shot, Ibaka, if given the opportunity could become a legitimate low post scorer.

    His 9.9 points per game ranked fourth on the team. But lacking in confidence, Ibaka struggled getting good solid position in the post. This led to out of control charge fouls, lending to an ongoing bout with foul trouble. This will need to be corrected if the Congo native expects to leap into an all-star caliber forward.

Kendrick Perkins, Starting Center, Health and Conditioning

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    Let's be honest here, at 6-foot-10 and 280 pounds, Kendrick Perkins carries more weight than he probably should. And as monstrous as his scowl is, his knees are brittle as glass.

    Reality would say Perkins is a top-five defender at the Center position, IF he can stay on the court. But because of ongoing injuries, Perk is never really in tip top shape.

    This is a viscous cycle that lends itself to further injury. Continually battling injury lowers a player's on court conditioning, which in turn, reflects in their numbers and their worth.

    This sort of conditioning is the very thing that gets Perkins into foul trouble and makes him a none factor on the offensive side of the ball. His limited post game and 55.6 percent from the free throw line makes him a legitimate liability.

Thabo Sefolosha, Sixth Man, Offensive Tool Box

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    What makes a sniper so special in a military situation is his/her pin point and timely accuracy.

    Thabo Sefolosha is a gifted athletic lock down defender. His 6-foot-7 height and long reaching arms make him the new-generation's Bruce Bowen--a player used to annoy and befuddle opposing teams stars.

    And though a good defense is an even better offense, basketball is still a game of points. And points only occur if the ball ricochets into the hoop and through the net.

    Thabo seems disinterested in this hard reality. As nice as his occasional put back jam is, if he cannot find a way to improve offensively than what good is he really?

    Bowen was unlike Sefolosha in that he became a timely and accurate three point shooter. Hopefully Thabo can follow suit.  

Eric Maynor, Seventh Man, Lack of Minutes and Speed

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    What Maynor majorly lacks, he makes- up for with a feisty unselfish leadership. Despite this marvelous truth he still has one issue: Russell Westbrook.

    It's not to say Maynor is a star as a starting point guard. Or that he'll score at will or run the team with flash and excitement, because he won't.

    But from College to the pros, the 6-foot-3 slow and methodical fire cracker is a winner.

    Issue is he's slower, less dynamic and a poorer shooter than Westbrook. And while Westbrook continues to rise, Maynor has hit his peak.

    The reality is that some basketball God somewhere played a major role when constructing future NBA players. And though Maynor believes he can start, his speed will forever be his Achilles heel.

    Go figure.

    If we could just give Westbrook the mental toughness of Maynor and Maynor the athleticism and size of Westbrook, it'd be magic.

Nick Collison, Eighth Man, Footwork and Foul Trouble

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    If you don't cheer for Nick Collison you sadly lack a soul. That's all there is to it.

    The man is one of the hardest working bench players in all of hoops. He efficiently uses all of his 21.5 minutes going full speed for all of it, while sparking fans alike with various diving hustle plays.

    But he badly lacks offensive and defensive footwork.

    Gifted with an intangible to read where a defensive rebound will carom, Collison is an intelligent and effective rebounder. 

    Yet besides that not much else.

    His 3.0 fouls per game in 21.5 minutes ranks him as one of the most frequent foulers in the game. This creates rotation troubles for Scott Brooks if one or both, Ibaka and Perkins, are in foul trouble.