It can’t be debated that the injury to Russell Westbrook was a monumental loss and will likely end up costing the Oklahoma City Thunder a chance to advance to the NBA Finals for the second straight year. It is also no secret that Westbrook reeks of talent and is one of the top players in the league today.
However, Westbrook’s injury could be the best thing to happen to Kevin Durant and the Thunder moving forward.
Remember we were asking ourselves the same question on a nightly basis this season….why in the world is Russell Westbrook taking more shots than the three-time reigning scoring champion? It wasn’t just some nights, it was most nights.
Kevin Durant is a scoring-machine and one of the best pure scorers to ever play in the NBA, even at the young age of 24. It made absolutely no sense that he was deferring to the “point guard” who is supposed to facilitate or at least be the second option.
The problem was, Kevin Durant didn’t mind at all that he was shooting less and URGED Westbrook to take those ill-advised shots that had us all scratching our heads. Much of that had to do with Durant eager to become more LeBron-esque, focusing more on facilitating, rebounding, and playing better defense. That is all well and dandy but we all know the gift that Kevin Durant was born with: TO SCORE THE BASKETBALL!
You would think the three-time reigning scoring champion would demand the ball and would take more shots than his side-kick and ‘me-first’ point guard. That was not the case at all.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, Westbrook shot 102 more times than Kevin Durant during the regular season. Even better, Durant made 58 more shots while shooting 102 less times than Westbrook.
Get the picture?
No argument can be made that Westbrook should be taking that many more shots than Durant. It is not entirely his fault either, since Durant was the one who advocated him to shoot, and shoot some more.
Fast-forward to today, the Oklahoma City Thunder find themselves one loss away from elimination and another long off-season. The Memphis Grizzlies currently lead the Thunder 3-1 in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Since Westbrook has gone down, it has forced Durant to become something he hasn’t been much lately….a little more selfish.
Durant has increased his field goal attempts by almost five, from 17.7 FGA in the regular season to 22.5 in the playoffs while increasing his points per game by 3.7. Again, since there is no Westbrook to take some pressure off and obviously the Thunder are not as good as before but it is propelling Durant to take his game to new heights.
Although Memphis has a strangle-hold on the series, the results could easily be reversed as all of the games have gone down to the wire. Durant worked his magic in Game One but has fallen short in the last three.
We are watching Durant grow up folks.
Michael Jordan and LeBron James had to go through it. They both ended up winning because they were so sick and tired of the pain and agony of defeat over and over again. If Durant doesn’t realize after this year’s playoff experience that he NEEDS to be the man and a man whom is selfish, then we may never see him achieve the greatness that we expect of him.
Don’t do that to us KD.
These quotes should tell you all you need to know about the mindset Durant should have moving forward:
Per Sports Illustrated:
“I’ve been second my whole life. I was the second-best player in high school. I was the second pick in the draft. I’ve been second in the MVP voting three times. I came in second in the Finals. I’m tired of being second. I’m not going to settle for that. I’m done with it.”
If Durant is true to himself and backs up what he says, he should be hoisting up his first MVP trophy next season while averaging over 30ppg. As fans, we deserve the selfish Kevin Durant. The Durant that says not “you first, but me first.” The Durant who is out to destroy every opponent in front of him.
KD, you were born with a gift that we may have never seen in the history of this game. Start using it more, please.
I’ll be watching as I know you’ll be too.