The Thunder’s Westbrook Issue Lingers





OKLAHOMA CITY – Watching the whirlwind that is Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook requires restraint that Westbrook himself has not shown through two games of the The Finals.

When your play inspires the sort of visceral reaction it did from the man whose picture is in the dictionary under point guard, Hall of Famer and Lakers’ legend Magic Johnson, you know we’ve reached a critical situation.

“That was the worst point guard in the championship finals I’ve seen,” Johnson said during ESPN’s halftime show, articulating a frustration many have had watching Westbrook struggle to find the right balance between the scorer that he knows himself to be and the facilitator the Thunder need him to be.

His 20-for-50 shooting numbers through two games belong in the head-scratcher Hall of Fame, especially when you consider that Kevin Durant and James Harden are his teammates.

But Westbrook’s wedding vows game — for better or worse — make it extremely difficult to makes sense of what he’s doing to the Thunder. Without his aggression on both ends in Game 1, the Thunder don’t rally late to win that game. Without his reckless play early in Game 2, maybe they don’t fall behind the way they did early and struggle the way they did for the better part of the first 40 minutes.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks has remained steadfast in his public support of Westbrook, as he should.

‘He’s never going to be John Stockton. He’s never going to be Mo Cheeks, one of (Brooks’) assistant coaches,” Brooks said, per Thunder beat writer Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman (courtesy of ABC play-by-play man Mike Breen). “But there are a lot of players out there who are never going to be Russell Westbrook.”

True.

Brooks knows his team wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t allowed Westbrook the freedoms he has all season.

And the Westbrook we saw in Game 1 is the one that worries Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, whose team has had to deal with two of the league’s dynamically different star point guards in Boston’s Rajon Rondo in the Eastern Conference finals and now Westbrook.

“Both of them are equally challenging in a different way,” Spoelstra said. “Rondo is a such a brilliant basketball maestro, reads a game and as soon as you turn your head and make one mistake, he makes you pay for it. This [Westbrook] is a relentless assault that just keeps coming, and if you’re not back ahead of the play, body in front of it, and that has to be multiple bodies in front of it, he’ll make you play. And that relentlessness is probably part of his greatness.”

But it’s also part of the madness, which is a rather sensitive topic around these parts, by the way.

Westbrook is so good when he’s at his aggressive best, and his turnovers are kept to a minimum as they been here lately, that he creates opportunities for himself and everyone else when his energy is channeled properly.

It’s easy to overlook the bad when Westbrook’s good is so great.

Westbrook certainly sees nothing wrong with the way he played Game 2 (those designer frames he wears aren’t magical, after all, they’re not even BluBlockers).

When asked if he felt he was straddling the line between playing aggressive and reckless, Westbrook gave that idea the Heisman pose.

“I didn’t think so,” he said. “I just thought I was playing my game, got easy shots that I usually make, lay-ups, just playing my game. Just unfortunately, the shots weren’t falling.”

What Westbrook must understand for the Thunder to get back on track in this series is that his game has to be about so much more than whether or not his shots are falling …


36 Comments

  1. Jami says:

    MAJIC JOHNSON SHOULD CLOSE HIS MOUTH. WHO IS HE TO TALK BADLY ABOUT ANYONE. WESTBROOK IS 23 YEARS OF AGE. WESTBROOK WILL WIN THE GAME FOR OKC IN GAME 4.

  2. Jolt says:

    The only problem here is, he doesn’t seem to realize he’s having a bad night and he WONT STOP SHOOTING!

  3. best point guard = best BBIQ says:

    westbrook said that there is nothing wrong in his play..he plays the same style he plays,.huh? 20-50 and leading the finals in shot attempts over durant, lebron, wade and harden?that means there is something wrong with him..he took to many shots, bad shot selection and we know that durant and even harden are way more efficient in offense than westbrook..knowing that every game is close 5 of those missed shots that he took could have been converted to points if it was durant or harden taking them..they are way more efficient in offense than westbrook..leading the finals in shot attempts is wrong if you know it’s not durant but westbrook..be smart enough man..run the offense more maturely as a point guard and let durant do the scoring more than what you are doing..let harden do his thing cause you are taking it from him..you can have your share if you play smart enough.

  4. coldkase says:

    So funny how people let hate cloud their judgement on this stuff, so ignorant.
    I don’t like Lebron, but I don’t say hes a bad player, because he OBVIOUSLY ISN’T.
    Same goes for Westbrook, people saying he’s garbage, name one guard with that level of explosiveness? If you named anyone but D-Rose, you’re reaching.
    He isn’t the best player on that team, he may not even be the second best when Beardy Jim is firing… But his main issue is his judgement, thats something that has already developed tenfold since last season, and is on the up and up.
    Haters need to fall back, either that or keep talking just like the Mavs fans did this seaon, and the Lakers fans, and the Spurs fans.
    Next

  5. Rocabye says:

    Magic said it was the worst performance by a PG in the finals that he’s ever seen, and he was speaking specifically about game 2 at half time. Nowhere did he say Westbrook was the worst PG in finals history. Westbrook is great, just had a rough night. C’mon he carried OKC through the first round, where’s the love?!

  6. Jew-ELz says:

    Westbrook is some garbage. He’s a supreme ‘heister’. That would be ‘ball-hog’ where I’m from—DC. Respect area native, Durant but clearly of a different generation. No playa’ from DC would have historically tolerated such nonsense. Westbrook would’ve been got joked.

  7. HeatDreamers says:

    as lons the refs dont help Miami, OKC is fine.. period..

  8. Allen says:

    Shooting 20 for 50, that’s too good for WB! I saw him shooting 3 for 26 against the Laker and still shooting. This guy is not a future team guy period. OKC will never win a championship with him being the PG

    • EJ says:

      I TOALLY AGREE WITH YOU!!!!!

      Westbrook should keep shooting, so my Miami Heat can win championship

      funny how he still insist he won’t change his game

  9. Celtic Fan says:

    If the thunder didn’t have westbrook, they would have been eliminated in the first round.
    Then again, it is a bad thing if magic said that Westbrook was the worst pg in finals history

  10. Yeaahhh says:

    THE GUYYY IS HELPInGGGGGG THE TEAM OF OKC, WESTBROOK IS A GOOD PLAYER

  11. LaShonda says:

    Westbrook is an awesome player, he just needs to learn when to slow down and when to “play his game”. By him being the PG, they look for him to set up these plays. 20 for 50 is unacceptable because alot of people are aware of how great he is and the type of player he is soon to become. At this point, he needs to give the 3 time scoring champion the ball more and work from there because Kevin Durant isn’t getting the ball as much as he should. I love this team, I have been supporting them since they have been the SuperSonics and i’m looking forward to them earning a ring this year. #THUNDERUP

  12. Andrea says:

    “Westbrook (needs to) learns the art of pacing and slowing down…” Hes a professional and gets paid millions of dollars, he should already know how to do that! College ball should have taught him that! I could care less for either team. Both teams are egotistical and self-absorbed and are out there for show. Whatever happened to playing for pride and accomplishment? I’ve met some of those “players” off the court with my kids and if I was their mothers I would be ashamed of how self absorbed they are! But then again, kids learn from their parents and their peers.

  13. katsomehlo says:

    If the Heat win the Series, Russell Westbrook should win Finals MVP. I’ve never seen anyone play better defense…against his own team.

  14. OctoPPus says:

    JayeB : Once Westbrook learns the art of pacing and slowing the heck down he will be unstoppable!!

    AGREE !!! – his shots WERE delivered to the basket – but a bit too strong – Westrook – 15% slower – POINTS COUNT !!!

  15. haha says:

    russell westbrick!!!!!!

  16. Hank says:

    The thunders will win the series!!!

  17. JayeB says:

    I agree Westbrook drives me CRAZY!! This guy is allover the place and he is CLEARLY a BALL HOG!! Don’t get me wrong i’m a big fan of him and OKC. Once Westbrook learns the art of pacing and slowing the heck down he will be unstoppable!!

    • Iverson3 says:

      JayeB;

      I agree with. Magic Johnson is the last person to be judging anyone. Hasn’t he learned the art of explaining what’s going on as the players play? I lost a great deal of respect for Magic. Westbrook is still learning his craft. Thunder in 7…

  18. Eduard says:

    RWB in the Finals has 27 ppg 9 apg 8 rpg, with only 2 topg. Tell me how is he losing the game for OKC? Ok, he had 50 shots is 2 games, but that’s because is his style of playing, and also he doesn’t have any good offensive big man to help him. Throw in a big man who can run the pick & roll with Westbrook, and then you will have your 10-12 apg from him. The reason why okc might lose the finals is their weak offensive big men… Besides Ibaka, who has a bit of post up game and a mid range jumper, Perkins and Collison are offensive scrubs. Great defensive players, but scrubs on offense. That’s my opinion.

  19. Pat Riley The Don says:

    Spoken like a true pessimist self-doubting hater. Everyone knows the Heat are the “evil Villains” and the Thunder are supposed to be the “feel-good, good ole’ boys” of the league…what planet are you on acting like everyone wants the Heat to win. Way more people want to see the Heat lose. OKC is not an underdog here buddy, stop feeling sorry for yourselves, the Heat have all the pressure and the Thunder have none. Sore loser…LET’S GO HEAT! (Fan since ’94)

  20. MIke says:

    Russell Westbrook is a hero! Let’s stop all the talk

    • designlords says:

      i will take the comment of MAgic Johnson better than you..he is the worst point guard ever in the finals..wheres the heroism on that one?hehehe

  21. Francisco says:

    correction
    unidimentional

  22. Francisco says:

    Westbrook is a playmaker without him the slow , unidemensional Durant is nothing

    • Bucky says:

      Are you high? Durant can score every way imaginable. He rebounds, blocks shots, and gets his teammates involved. “Slow” you say….he runs the floor like no one else in the league at 6’9/6’10. Get a grip mate!

  23. Hakeem Alonto says:

    Westbrook is playing terrific basketball most of the time. He is absolutely right: he just missed his shots. Durant needs him to be just as aggressive. The real issue is not Westbrook. The issue is wether or not they can stop the Heat offense. I don’t think the thunder can. Miami in 5.

  24. G.Lane says:

    It doesnt matter what Westbrook or the Thunder do or how they play. The out come is predetermined.The cHeat will win.the series will end in Miami.LeBron James will be the hero.This is the worst officiating since the 85 finals when Cedric Maxwell tackled Kurt Rambis and they called the foul on Rambis.The media will toe the party line and act as if the cHeat played great ball and swoon over a thuggish James.I loved how #1 for the cHeat threw Westbrook to floor after he drove to the bucket and scored(just good sportsmanship i suppose).lets hope the cHeat give the refs a ring and a share of the winners checks,after all theyre the best bench in the league.Westbrook is a great player and will get better.The nba has lost all credibility.Such a shame.But congrats to cHeat starting 8.

  25. Patrickmarc says:

    you remind me how good was John Stockton, Jordan could say the same about this famous point guard.
    Miami and OKC don’t have a super point guard, we feel that in the fourth quarter, i feel there is no brain in Miami to organise something clever in the last minutes.

  26. designlords says:

    this means that westbroke is not a real star, took out durant in OKC and it would be like Cleveland without LBJ, Westbroke should stay in playmaking and let durant do the shooting.. enough with the spotlight for him, he aint deserve it yet.

  27. designlords says:

    20 OUT OF 50? man that was a horrible. i agree with magic!