Okc Will Be Just Fine and May Even Win a Ring With Out Kevin Durant
For years, going back to the year Derrick Rose won mvp, Ive been telling people to just imagine if Russell Westbrook had his own team. As in a real roster specifically built around him. Just imagine the numbers he would put up! In my opinion I think 2011 Westbrook (21.9 pts 8.2 ast. 4.6 rebs 1.9 stl ) was better than 2011 Derrick Rose ( 25pts 7.7 ast 4 rebs 1 stl). I Consider these numbers to be fairly identical due to Rose being a number 1 in Chicago , which he had been since the past year. Additionally this was Westbrooks first really good break out season as the Thunder’s number 2 Option.
The season following, even being shortened due to the lock out, Westbrook and Rose continued to have seemingly Identical numbers leading into the playoffs, where D.rose would tear his Acl and the Thunder ended up Facing the Miami Heat in the finals . Even Thought they were beat fairly decisively this series due to the drop off in efficiency of Harden and Ibaka. It acted as a coming out party for Westbrooks entrance into the top 5 players in the nba for the seasons to come.
Then 2015 happens, Kd goes down with a reoccurring foot injury leading him to play only 27 games that season. The Thunder roster, as shallow as it was with a healthy Durant, was carried for the most part by Westbrook’s mvp-like play, averaging 28 points, 8.6 Assist, 7.2 Rebounds and 2 steals a game. In the end, the Thunder didn’t make the playoffs that season due to an 8th place tie with the Pelicans, that they earned by winning the season series 3-1 on a Anthony Davis buzzer beating 3 over Kevin Durant. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei34RqCmRXQ )
The Thunder not making the playoffs this season in my opinion is what stopped Russell from being the real 2014-2015 mvp. Westbrook’s end of season stats at 28pts 8.6 ast 7.2 reb 2.1 stls are better than Curry’s 23.8 7.7 ast 4.3 rebs 2 stls. Westbrook did this while still playing as a number 2 option for 27 games to Kevin Durant that season. All with a much less talented roster than the Warriors. That being said, it also stopped a first round show down between Westbrook and Curry. Instead the Warrior went on to face The Pelicans who they swept, leading to Curry’s first championship and a undoubtable mvp this season.
Moving on from what if’s of the past, and into the what if’s of the Nba season too come. Both Oladipo ( 17.9 pts) and Kanter (18.7 pts ) Have proven in their career’s with around 23.5%-25% usage rates, that they can be effective scorers in the nba. The interesting thing to take from this that neither of Oladipo’s or Kanter’s highest percent of usage is higher than Westbrook’s lowest percent of usage as a number 2 to Durant. Meaning that Between these two, the loss of Durant and Ibaka (48.2%) usage rate is barely missed with the arrival Oladipo and Kanter(46.3%) into the starting line up, with room for Westbrook to add on a bit more usage as well.
The Okc Thunder will run with pistons firing like it did during the 2014-2015 season with Russell Westbrook at the helm, but this time he has a much greater crew to support him, assuming every one can stay healthy. The Flexibility of Andre Robertson to Defend the 1,2,3 and some times 4, as well as Steven Adams Ability to guard the 5,4, and sometimes 3, will allow the Thunder to run similar lineups and sets as they did with Ibaka and Durant. The hope of an improving 3 point shot of Robertson, Post game of Steven Adams , development of Cameron Payne and Defence of Enes Kanter would all yield tangible benefits too. All these factors tied together with the addition of Ersan Ilyasova and the 11th pick in this year’s draft Domantas Sabonis, makes The Thunder a contender for the best two-way line up in the league.
With all that Being said 2016-2017 is going to be the biggest seasons of Westbrook’s, Oladipo’s and Kanter’s collective lives. On paper it looks like it could work and have a huge impact on the league, but it’s really up to health and skill level of the players. With Westbrook entering a contract year and the Cap set to rise even more than it did for this coming season, expect Westbrook to show the league what he is worth.