There might not be a more polarizing figure in the NBA today than Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook. Russ has as many fans as he does critics. Whatever side of that line you fall on, you cannot understate Russ’ talent(s). From being arguably the most athletic guard we’ve ever seen play the point guard position, Russ can be as inspiring as he is frustrating. None of the criticisms of his game would be as poignant as they are/were, if it weren’t for the fact he shares the hardcourt with one Kevin Durant. I firmly believe if Russ was running his own show, there wouldn’t be as many critics of him as there are now.
Russell Westbrook, along with many other uber talented guards, is plagued by the complexities of starring the lead guard role in today’s basketball climate. We want our point guards to do everything, and do everything very well. From Kyrie, to CP3, to Stephen Curry, all the way to Russell Westbrook — four different ways of playing the position are displayed. Only Curry has reached the ultimate level out of those four aforementioned names, however, that does not take anything away from the ringless other three names. They’ve all accomplished varied levels of success running point.
Today, I personally believe Russell Westbrook is the most complete point guard in the Association. He lacks none of the qualities that make for an elite guard. He’s ferocious on both ends of the floor. He attacks every single possession with the same aggression, passion and just utter disregard for feelings. I’ve voiced in the past that if I were to enter battle with a backcourt partner, I’d choose Russell Westbrook time and time again. We share the same scowl.
Analyzing Westbrook’s evolution into a do-everything guard over the last three seasons has been absolutely beautiful. I doubt anyone else in the NBA could deflect the negativity he’s thrown as well as Westbrook has been able to. He’s a walking triple-double (18 to be exact this season), but more importantly a walking loose cannon. As he goes, OKC goes. We’ll now be blessed with a Western Conference Finals matchup of EPIC PROPORTIONS!! KD’s injuries and OKC’s misfortunes robbed us of a Golden State-Oklahoma City playoff matchup a year ago. We get our wish in 2016, both teams seemingly healthy and ready for the moment. I know I’ll be glued to every scene in this action-packed thriller.
There is a lot riding on Oklahoma City’s progression, or lack there of. For starters, we all know Kevin Durant is an impending free agent. Will a Western Conference Finals appearance be enough to keep him in the midwest? Russell Westbrook’s evolution has me stuck between a rock and a hard place mentally. If I’m KD, is there a better situation than the one I’m in now (other than Golden State)? If the Thunder beat the Warriors, but ultimately fall short in the Finals, do I leave Russ? Winning a championship this year eliminates the thoughts of searching for greener pastures elsewhere. So, this could easily become the most important playoff series of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant’s booming partnership.
For now though, it’s been worthwhile to see Russell Westbrook turn the corner with his decision-making as well as his overall play.