The one man wrecking crew of Russell Westbrook can do two things: He can either destroy teams single handedly, or he can ruin it for his own team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Westbrook did just that in the 100-85 loss to the Boston Celtics. Westbrook got hot flashes from the prospect of playing without Kevin Durant, just like he had to last season. Poor him. He really suffers from being the number one offensive option, right? More like his team does, at least when he goes off the handle and can’t stop for a moment and think what’s the best option. Not like a point guard; forget that argument. A good, smart player knows to step away from certain situations. But Westbrook in some games just elects to ignore everything before his eyes and take the ship down with him.
Westbrook did finish with 27 points, but he had a lot of help from referees, sending him to the line 17 times (made 15 shots). From the field? Less than pathetic, making just 5-of-20 shots, going 2-of-10 from beyond the arc. An interested tidbit: Whenever he takes 10 shots or more from three, the Thunder lose. The on court rivalry with Marcus Smart, a guy who was likened to Westbrook during his days at Oklahoma State before getting drafted, got him to act like this is some one on one game in some basketball court with bored pedestrians watching, not an NBA game that the now 6-4 Thunder needed to win.
Smart scored 26 points to go with 8 rebounds, although it’s not indicative of his season so far. He is averaging 12.3 points while shooting 39.3% from the field. He’s not Westbrook yet. Maybe never will be, but it seems that facing him on the floor got the best out of Smart, who is playing on a team that’s playing the kind of basketball Billy Donovan is trying to instill with the Thunder, so far unsuccessfully. Westbrook has options to go to, but managed to ignore all of them for the sake of winning this thing on his own, and failed miserably. Smart’s previous career high, 25, was also against the Thunder in Oklahoma City.
Durant will be back pretty soon; it’s not going to be like last season. But while his out, this can’t be another ‘that’s Westbrook and that’s how he plays’. A basketball team, a good one, can’t be run like that. The Thunder might talent, but Scott Brooks was fired for a reason. Billy Donovan was hired for a reason or two. Part of it was to make this group less dependant on individual style, and more relying on each other. Westbrook simply refuses to make that adjustment, even though he and everyone has known for a long time that in the long run, playing this way will always result in feeling somewhat disappointed eventually.