Russell Westbrook struggled with the exact role he needed to take in the playoffs last season
The NBA season this past year can be debated as the most anticipated and followed season in recent memory of the league.
With Derrick Rose MVP season, the fall of the Boston Celtics big three, the arrival of Miami Heat’s big three, and the emergence of the Oklahoma City Thunder as a perennial power in the already talented west were frequent headlines in the press.
While Kevin Durant is the de facto leader of the Thunder, Russell Westbrook emerged as a sidekick to accompany Durant as a legit one-two punch. The thing about that is the 2011 playoffs dampened that claim for the moment.
As we all saw, Westbrook could be argued as the reason the Thunder didn’t prosper to the NBA Finals. It was many times that Westbrook attempted more shots than star player Durant. He also played poorly and below expectations in some games.
You could see the frustration that were building up inside of their coaches face and even Durant’s of Westbrook’s’ play and decisions.
During the regular season, Westbrook attempted on average 17 shots and connected on 44 percent from the field and 33 percent from the three point line. The postseason saw those averages dip from 44 percent to 39, and 33 percent to 29 percent.
His average of 20 field goal attempts also were up from the 17 in the regular season, and in the 17 postseason games he played in, it were only four games in which he shot more than 41 percent from the field.
Is Russell Westbrook The Right Fit For The Thunder?
Not to mention that Westbrook has shown an apparent attitude problem, and was benched for a botched play and was seen on the sideline going on a tirade.
With that being said, it wasn’t a surprise that recently he was involved in trade talks in a deal attempting to send Rajon Rondo from the Boston Celtics with him in exchange.
The deal fell through and it appears that Oklahoma City may have to extend Westbrook’s original contract since he is now eligible for the extension.
But that’s the burning question: Is Westbrook capable of correctly assisting Durant and being the point guard the Thunder need him to be to win titles?
It’s no question that Westbrook has immense talent. His athletic skill is only second to Derrick Rose in terms of point guards. The problem that will occur is everyone will remember the subsequent ball hogging and hot tempers he showed in the playoffs.
Durant does have James Harden and Kendrick Perkins too. Westbrook should be second in command. But if Durant is the star then Westbrook should let Durant be that while he falls in line and contributes the right way.
If that means Westbrook has to take fewer shots, improve on his shot selection, decision making, and look to be the point guard first then that’s what he will have to strive for.
Last season we did see this emergence of the athletic point guard but none of them were truly effective in terms of role playing, decision making, and shot selection/percentage.
Chris Paul, although he had a down year last season, has demonstrated exactly what you need in a good point guard: ball control, good decision making, can score and is effective.
Also a good point guard should shoot a fairly high percentage from the floor and is a leader on and off the court and shows great character.
Steve Nash, although is aging, too shows that he is a good floor general with all that was mentioned above. He also still produces at a high level.
The point is, with all that happened in the postseason, will Westbrook turn the other cheek and realize that one he’s the point guard, and two must understand that Durant is the focal point?
Whenever Westbrook decides to do that then I personally believe that the Thunder could be considered a dangerous threat for the NBA Title.
Westbrook is too good of a talent to be marred by attitude problems or to be labeled a ball hog and a selfish teammate. The Thunder is one step away and they need him to be intact.
No one ever said he can’t put up his averages but do it the best way that can attribute to the team’s successes.
But also the eyes will be on Russell Westbrook, as many hope to see the rising superstar be the rightful piece the Thunder needs to win a ring.