With a record of 40-30 and the eighth seed in the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder hold a 2.5 game lead over the Phoenix Suns for the final playoff spot. They have been hit by the injury bug all season with one half of their duo in Kevin Durant missing 42 games this season. On March 19th, Thunder officials determined that Durant would be “removed from all basketball activities” with the chance of being shut down for the season. Durant had missed a total of 16 games during his entire career leading up to this season.
The unfortunate injury to Durant has led to the stat-sheet stuffing play by Russell Westbrook. Westbrook last night became the sixth player in the last 30 seasons to record 10 triple-doubles in one season.
ICYMI: Russell Westbrook became just 6th player in last 30 seasons to record 10 triple-doubles in a season. pic.twitter.com/kC1lbLzpPw
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 23, 2015
This is MVP quality that can’t go unnoticed and it seems like Russell Westbrook is the best player in basketball at the moment. The major question going forward for the Thunder is, how will they fair without Kevin Durant?
Going back to the play of Russell Westbrook one could argue that his latest stats seem a little skewed. Over his last 10 games, Westbrook is shooting 40% from the field on 24 shots per 40 mins with an average of 6.6 TOV. He has only shot 45% from the field once during that stretch. Skewed or not, the numbers are there and the Thunder are in the playoffs as of today.
But can the Thunder have playoff success without Kevin Durant? If the season were to end today, they would be facing the Golden State Warriors in the first round. This could spur an early exit for the Thunder and for them to make a strong run in the playoffs, they need the help of Kevin Durant. The top seeds in the West are just too big of a match for them right now, even with the play of Westbrook. When it comes to inside play, the Thunder don’t match up well against the two-seeded Grizzlies. As for guard play, the Thunder would need even better play from Westbrook if they wanted to match up against the splash brothers in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson
If it has any meaning towards the Thunder’s title chances, their odds for an NBA Championship went from 10-1 to 50-1, according to sportsbooks.ag.