Blogtable: Westbrook Speeds Things Up

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

New and for real | Westbrook’s speedy return | Bynum’s impact on Cavs, East

VIDEO: The Beat: Westbrook returns

With Russell Westbrook back from injury this early, care to revise your look at the Western Conference?

Steve Aschburner, No revision necessary. I had Oklahoma City as one of my top three teams in the West, jockeying with San Antonio behind the Clippers, all ahead of the trendy Golden State forecasts. Getting Westbrook sooner rather than later clearly helps them with every extra game he plays, but he’ll likely have a rust curve to navigate and the others on that roster (minus Kevin Martin now) face pressure to put up their 45-55 points per game, assuming Durant-Westbrook is good for 50.

Fran Blinebury, Not really.  I picked SA and OKC 1-2 in the West by a narrow margin.  I’ll still give a healthy Spurs team a narrow edge because the Thunder still don’t have a suitable James Harden substitute.

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook (Layne Murdoch/NBAE)

Jeff Caplan, Why would I? I picked OKC to win it all. My only concern continues to be if the Thunder will have enough beyond Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

Scott Howard-Cooper, I’m good. The surprise is that Westbrook is back this soon, not that he is back. I had the Thunder third in the West, behind the Clippers and Spurs, so OKC was always going to be a serious threat, whether its point guard returned in November or January. All that mattered was that when he did return, it was with good health. If the knee issue persists, then we’ve got an issue. But if Westbrook has ramped up to 100 percent by the second half of the season and the playoffs, then it’s the rest of the league that has a problem.

John Schuhmann, No. The timing of Westbrook’s return (to the lineup or to 100 percent) was never my concern with the Thunder. My concerns were their ability to make up for the departure of Kevin Martin and the ineffectiveness of Kendrick Perkins. Time will tell if their new bench can prove itself reliable, if Scott Brooks is willing to play small more, and if the Thunder can count themselves as one of the West contenders (along with the Spurs) without obvious flaws. The West is wide open and it could be a mid-season trade or two that helps sort things out.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comNot at all. I picked the Golden State Warriors to come out of the West this year and I feel really good about that pick after watching them work so far this season. Russell Westbrook’s return does make things a bit more interesting, it certainly pushes the Oklahoma City Thunder right back into the middle of that mix. Still, I would have picked the Warriors whether Westbrook was healthy or not, whether he came back as himself or something less than what we’re all used to. When I look at the depth and balance of all of the teams out West the Warriors, in my eyes, are the most sound. All things being equal, meaning everyone’s major players remaining healthy (or as healthy as possible) for the duration of this season, I’m sticking with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Mark Jackson and the crew. If anything, I’d like to revise my Houston Rockets pick and push them a little higher up the food chain. But I need to see more of them before doing anything of the sort.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: No. I still think the Clips are the team to beat out West. At the same time, I’ve been saying all along that the Thunder did not need to make any knee-jerk moves at the start of the season without Westbrook, that they could tread water long enough without him to be a factor in the West. I had a sneaking suspicion that Westbrook would be back sooner than anyone thought, considering that before this injury he’d never missed a game, dating to high school. His presence teamed with Durant makes them a factor. But being a factor is different from being the best team in the West, and to me the Thunder just don’t have the depth to outlast a team like the Clippers.

Stefanos Triantafyllos, Greece: I believe that we are living the days of the Thunder. Forget Tom Cruise. This one stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the best 1-2 punch in the league. They are the favorite for taking the West, meaning that we found them exactly where we left them prior the injury of “RW”. Unless a  former teammate (Harden) has his say.

Philipp Dornhegge, Deutschland: Didn’t I have the Thunder as my Finals pick coming out of the West? Yeah, I did. So no, my prediction stands.

Davide Chinellato, Italia: Since I had the Thunder winning the West and trying to beat Miami in the Finals, my prediction won’t change. Westbrook is a fundamental addition to the Thunder’s system, providing a lot of leadership and another awesome offensive. The problem for Oklahoma City is that Westbrook and Durant are, at the moment, their only offensive weapons


  1. Who cares... says:

    I really think everyone is getting ahead of themselves… 76 to go!

  2. Clay Stirling says:

    OKC need a three point threat and more bench scoring to take the pressure off Kd & Rw

  3. J says:

    I don’t think the west has a true number 1 ranked team like the east does (Miami Indiana) thunder cant do it without a proper 6th man or another scoring option like james harden
    spurs are old farts but are still terrific but the are old
    I don’t see the clippers winning a championship with there team they got 2 stars and a bunch of average/good players like a lot of teams they just need 1 or 2 more things and then they are at the top
    that leaves gs and Houston they are great but again 1 more thing would put them over the top

    1 more thing can mean anything from 1 more scorer or a better coach or another big or a shot blocker

  4. HangtimeBlogTroll2013 says:

    Maybe too early, but by the All-Star break (in no particular order)

    1. Oklahoma
    2. Minnesota
    3. Houston

    1. Indiana
    2. Miami
    3. Orlando

  5. dustydreamnz says:

    Warriors a great chance of winning West I thought, it’s between them, Spurs and Rockets for mine. As for OKC, I agree with Charles Barkley. Hard to win conference or title without a good centre. I’m from New Zealand and Steven Adams is worth watching though like someone else said, his stats are better than Perkins already.

    • Yao says:

      Did u just say wrong headed basketball? Do you even watch Warriors game? They always shoot transition 3’s, look where that got them last year, and look where they’re at now.

  6. reyn marcelo says:

    hahaha.. i hate predictions!!! well, at the end of the season, it will all be the San Antonio Spurs who will dominate.. Go Spurs Go!

  7. Surprise surprise I will pick the mavericks over thunder

  8. Someone says:

    if you think OKC will get past the 2nd round you must be trippin

  9. yoyoyoyo says:

    okc need to get rid of perk and get a big man that is a low post threat!! a knockdown shooter also would be a welcome addition

  10. mehg says:

    warriors are good this year ! no one can stop steph curry

    • KareemOftheCrop says:

      I saw the Wolves stop Steph Curry just today with a tweaked ankle. He is an ankle sprain waiting to happen. You think his an is going to be protected property come playoffs when defense, intensity and overall hard fouls come more often?

  11. Roy says:

    Since we’re at it I may as well show my predictions for the playoff seeds.
    1. Clippers
    2. Golden State Warriors
    3. OKC
    4. San Antonio Spurs
    5. Houston Rockets
    6. Memphis Grizzlies
    7. Minnesota Timberwolves
    8. Denver Nuggets or New Orleans Pelicans (can’t choose haha)

    1. Miami Heat
    2. Indiana Pacers
    3. Brooklyn Nets
    4. New York Knicks
    5. Chicago Bulls
    6. Detroit Pistons
    7. Cleveland Cavaliers
    8. Toronto Raptors

  12. WOW says:

    Who would pick the warriors to make it out of the west? lol…do you know basketball? They have no half court game, Clay Thompson can’t create off the dribble. An OKC, Memphis, Spurs, or a Clippers team would destroy them in a 7 game series.

    • Luke says:

      The warriors played the Spurs in the playoffs and almost beat them.

      • Boston Fan says:

        warriors are missing something this year…..Jarrett Jack

      • chris says:

        they may be missing Jarrett Jack but they also now have Andre Igoudala who is an all star and one of the best perimetres defenders in the league, they might not go all the way but they will be better than last year

    • OK says:

      do you know basketball ?

    • Chardcastle says:

      You mean Klay?? Lol, Outside of the Clippers game(which was a back to back game), the warriors starters have not played a fourth quarter because they’ve been crushing teams. Food for though.

      • alkdjf says:

        How are you going to correct the spelling of an abnormally spelt name and then say Food for though….

  13. MOONDOG88 says:

    Let’s go Thunder. However, i do agree with Sekou to an extent; OKC needs a third go to Player. They need someone who can space the floor; they do not have a legitimate 3-point shooter outside of KD. Mike miller would have been a perfect fit, a stellar shooter and someone you can give the vet minimum. I still do not know why Perkins is still there. Adams is looking as if he will be able to contribute much sooner than anyone though. I say ship off Perkins and a first round pick to Houston maybe they can snag Omer Asik.

  14. darko says:

    OKC does need to look to Ibaka for scoring more and have a steady offensive input from their second unit too; they’re at their best playing with a lead.
    Spurs will be tough as usual, though it’s an even numbered year; Clips need Chris Paul healthy or they’re hopeless. Golden State needs Andre Igoudala to be their steady head in residence- Coach Jackson can’t teach his youngsters maturity, it seems. When the Clips went small late in a tight game against the Warriors the other day, with Jared Dudley guarding Andrew Bogut, Steph Curry jacked up wild semi-transition 3’s on consecutive processions. Just plain wrongheaded basketball. If he can learn sooner instead of later, the Warriors will be better; with, I think, a chance to win it all.

  15. NBEATZ says:

    1)- Clippers
    4)-Golden state


    • Carlos says:

      Iggy is very underrated, and so is this warriors team. 1.Thunder 2. Spurs 3.Houston 4. Warriors 5. Clippers 6.T-wolves 7.Lakers 8. Dallas

    • His Airness says:

      Come on! Of course it changes the landscape. The West is always such a tight race. Without Westbrook, the Thunder are easily a .500 team out West. With Westbrook they are one of the best. If Westbrook was out for another month(15 games), it would obviously affect their final standing, thus affecting the playoff landscape greatly. It might not change who makes the finals, but the early return could easily improve them a few spots on the playoff ladder.

    • gbexx says:

      Dont think so…

      The west is a bit messed up. The Wolves will be much higher if they stay healthy. Ellis is changing the look of dallas and putting Dirk in a great spot distributer and spot shooter. I think they will be in the race. Memphis will be just outside the race as they are not the even close to the same team. but your top four are right on. maybe not that order but you can probably see all four only being a couple games away from each other.

      East: Miami won’t finish first, as I don’t think they want to. They are looking at conserving the milage on the big three especially Wade. They will rest the starting 5 a lot this year and the only thing that will keep LeBron on the floor is his drive for MVP and and desire for a legacy.

      But great list dude, and thanks for asking and leaving it open.