Oklahoma City Thunder 3 Games In

The Thunder have started off the condensed 2011 – 2012 season a red hot 3-0.  So why am I feeling the urge to rip right into them?  Russell Westbrook.

Now, stay with me here.  I know the guy is an all-star.  I know he's one of the "10 best players in the league" yada yada yada.  OK, that's great, but the guy just rubs me the wrong way.  Tonight he goes 0-13 with 7 turnovers.  That's just one game, you say, and besides the Thunder won anyway.  Yes, the Thunder did win anyway, but it was no thanks to #0.  That makes a perfect three straight games of 7 turnovers in each.  That is flat out unacceptable.  The guy just can't seem to grasp the concept of playing the PG position and tries to force it even when he is clearly having an off night.  He hasn't made a bucket all night and Durant can't miss.  What does Westbrook do with time winding down and the Grizzlies within striking distance?  He does his patent dribbling out the shot clock and sends up a horrible one handed fade-away that never has a chance.  I just don't understand how someone can be so selfish.

Am I being too hard on Westbrook?  Maybe.  But I'd just assume make a deal suggested by my partner in crime, TheMayor, and make a move for Dwight Howard.  Send Westbrook, Perkins, and a first rounder and I don't see how Orlando can say no.  I'd much rather have Maynor distributing to KD and Harden with Howard cleaning up everything that rims out.

On the brighter side of things, Durant has already started off the season with MVP-like numbers dropping 30+ in every game thus far and averaging less than 3 turnovers and 5 rebounds.  Durant has come through big in the clutch in close games vs Memphis and Minnesota.  #35 is the star of this team, not Westbrook.  I was hopeful Westbrook had taken some of the criticism from last season to heart and tried to work on honing his game as a true PG during the extended offseason, but it is clear that Russell will be Russell no matter how many detractors come his way.  Brooks refuses to put a tighter leash on Westbrook in fear of pushing him away and having his PG turn against him with only a year left on his contract.

The Thunder are 3-0, but it is not because of Westbrook.  The Thunder are 3-0 because of the superior play from Durant, Harden, Ibaka, Perkins and crew.  Harden has continued to thrive coming off the bench playing possibly even better ball than last season.  Serge has had a bit of a slow start, but is still fulfilling his role on the team.  Perkins came into the season in the best shape of his life and finally with a healthy knee and boy does it show.  Perkins has been a huge boost down low thus far and I am very impressed with his transformation from last season.

Westbrook is heaving up almost the same number of shots per game as Durant, yet connecting on roughly half of the shots that Durant is downing.  Something needs to change.  This team is good, but not good enough to continue to cover for #0 all season long with any hopes of a title coming to OKC.  I don't think he will ever change though and I don't think the Thunder will ever be able to get over the hump with him at the reigns.  I hope I'm wrong, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Micah Hixon

A die hard Sooner fan through and through. Micah transferred his allegiance to the Oklahoma City Thunder the year the Mavs won the title (go figure). He believes the Thunder and Sooners have many titles to come in the not too distant future. Most of his comments are not backed up by any sort of fact based reasoning, but you can trust him.

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9 thoughts on “Oklahoma City Thunder 3 Games In”

  1. I’m right with you, man. I just don’t understand 2 things:

    1) How does Scott Brooks allow this to happen? Sure, OKC is 3-0 to start the young season, but why does he stay content with Westbrook bogging down the offense late in the game, especially. The Thunder are up 12 with approximately 4 minutes to go in the game. Out goes Maynor, in comes Westbrook. The game came down the final ticks to decide it after Randolph’s 3 pointer with 2 seconds remaining, which cut the lead to 2. Who wants the ball to go shoot free throws? Yep, Westbrook. Unbelievable.

    2) How does Westbrook think he’s doing the right thing? I didn’t play a lot of organized basketball in my life, but when I did, I knew when to quit shooting and start passing. Heck, in pick up games in Idabel, OK and at UCO in Edmond, when I was off, I passed the ball and played defense. Sometimes it’s not your night, and 0-13 from the floor is a shining example of that. Most of those shots were either wide open 15 foot jumpers or point blank floaters that he’s prided himself on in his young career. Surely he knows that unless it’s a fast break or a wide open layup, pass the rock to your superstar. I think he just forces the issue every time he touches the ball.

    He’ll never understand his role, which is sad. With Rondo, KD might average 45 points a game. What could be in OKC we might never know, but I know this, OleLee and I are in the 99th percentile of people who are thinking the exact same thing…Westbrook’s time HAS to be coming to and end. Don’t you think Presti would have already resigned him long term if he TRULY wanted him here? Ponder that…

  2. Skip Bayless just tweeted: “I wanted badly to pick Thunder this yr but just don’t trust what Westbrook will do to KD. Wants to be DRose of West. DRose doesn’t have a KD.”

    He is spot on too. Westbrook wants to be D. Rose and that would be perfectly fine if Durant was not on the team. Westbrook is gonna have to go eventually and I’d just assume the sooner the better.

  3. I couldn’t agree more. I thought when KD and Westbrook had their beef last year, that the event was more media driven then there was actual substance. How many times did Kobe and Gasol not get along on their title run? Probably had their disagreements but both realized they needed each other to win the whole thing. That same is true here but sadly for Westbrook, nothing has changed for him since last year. It’s like nobody sat down with him and said “hey, be more like Chris Paul.” If I was Sam Presti, I’d start entertaining the idea of trading Westbrook for Rondo or D. Williams straight up. He’s not some rookie or in his 2nd year. I thought he’d be more like other elite point guards, who facilitate the offense and he’s proving quite the opposite.

  4. OleLee and I’s friend and good buddy said something that’s SPOT on. This reminds him of back in the 90’s with Marbury and Garnett came into Minnesota together. Westbrook is Marbury..he’ll always be the cancer… and KD and Garnett will both be Hall of Famers..

  5. He wants to be AI. The really sad part is you rarely see a guy change. It’s like a gene-defect plus you add years of growing up where every single team YOU ARE the man and YOU have to score if we are going to win and it just becomes a habit or drug too strong to overcome. It’s a rare PG that “can” score but chooses to try to help his teammates first. That sort of selfless play is just not part of the make-up of most NBA players.

    The Thunder are in a difficult situation for several reasons. 1) They are already really, really good with Westbrook playing just the way he is and honestly there ARE games where he is the difference. 2) Who can you realistically get in return for a young All-Star player? I mean the value is enormous and I like the Howard deal mentioned above but other than that deal how many more would the Thunder even consider? 3) How far can they go with Westbrook? Making it to the WC Finals last year was an amazing run which I think Thunder fans have already taken too lightly. Can they beat the Heat with WB? Is anything less than an NBA title now going to satisfy Thunder fans? Maverick fans had to wait 30+ years with a LOT of really good teams before they pulled off a magical run to win it. So maybe some perspective and thankfulness are needed here as well. 🙂

    Oh and one more thing . . . which is the bigger problem . . . . Westbrook or the lack of defense?? I think they can win with Westbrook. I’m just not sure they can win it all w/o playing a little defense.

    1. Yeah, Westbrook isn’t exactly an all-world defensive player to really make up for his offensive antics. I think you are right in that he is just programmed a certain way and, though he’s still young in his NBA years, I just don’t see him being able to adapt to a different playing style to accommodate another top player on his team properly.

      Thunder fans have become a bit spoiled over the last two years with the rapid transformation of the Thunder and the continuing improvement each season. Do I expect them to win it all this year? Not necessarily, but I do expect them to reach the finals 😉

      Westbrook can be a huge asset to a team, I just don’t think he’s suited for the Thunder to reach their maximum potential. I sure wish Presti would’ve made a move for Chris Paul in the off season as that sure seems like he would have been a perfect fit right about now. The only possible trades I see now are one for Howard, Rondo, or possibly D. Williams. Any other replacements or trades just don’t seem to add up to me right now. I just fear it will take another season or two of Westbrook’s continued antics before Presti is willing to pull the trigger on a trade.

  6. Just a small addition to a Dr. DieHard reply:

    Yes, I think it is mainly about Westbrook and not so much about the “defense”. What I worry about is the defensive rebounding. It seems like the Thunder give so many extra second chance points away to the opposing team. I think Aldrich doesn’t get enough playing time with his aggressiveness on defense. Nazr plays well at times and is a well-rounded defensive player, however, Aldrich brings shot blocking, aggressiveness and a “birdman-type” mentality. I’m big, I’m strong, I rebound, I play defense. That’s what he thinks when taking the floor. Time will tell, but I think rebounding needs to shape up in a BIG way.

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