Russell Westbrook averaged a triple double again this season, but now that the playoffs are here, he’s struggled badly at the offensive end. Westbrook is shooting just 36 percent from the field and 27 percent on 3-pointers, and the Thunder are trailing 2-1.
The internet – especially social media – loves Westbrook, and he can do no wrong. If the Thunder lose Game 4 and eventually the series, the blame will inevitably shift to coach Billy Donovan or perhaps fading Carmelo Anthony.
“Westbrook averaged a triple double,” they’ll say. And technically, yes, he is doing that against the Jazz (20.7 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 10.0 apg). But wins are currency in the playoffs, not stats. And the excuse last year for Westbrook and the Thunder was that he had no help, and that’s why they lost 4-1 to the Rockets.
So the Thunder went out and got help for Westbrook, adding Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony and Top 15 NBA player Paul George. (Though one could argue Westbrook had help last year in Victor Oladipo, who is just the latest former Thunder player to leave and thrive. He’s going to be an All-NBA player and he’s carried the Pacers to an improbable playoff berth.)
What happens if the Thunder lose Game 4? Down 3-1 isn’t quiet a death sentence, but the questions will certainly mount. Is Paul George gonna stay? Is Carmelo Anthony going to opt-out – and walk away from $27.9 million – because he wants to get as far away from Westbrook?
We’ll soon find out. No pressure, Russ. It’s not like you’re being outplayed by Ricky Rubio (20.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 8.0 apg and shooting 38 percent from the field, 35 percent on 3-pointers) or anything.
Westbrook turns 30 in November. If he can’t get out of the 1st round against Utah, will he ever get out of the 1st round again?