If the Thunder don’t rally from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Jazz, what will the Russell Westbrook excuses be this year?
When The Thunder melted down against the Warriors in the 2016 playoffs, Kevin Durant got most of the blame, even though Westbrook was equally as bad, and he’s the point guard, with the ball in his hands more than anyone.
Then Durant left for Golden State, and he was deemed mentally weak, and soft. Twitter, which loves Westbrook because he jumps and dunks and snarls, defended the point guard as if he were a girlfriend who got dumped and you felt really badly for. (Durant went on to win a title and capture MVP of the Finals.)
In 2017, Westbrook averaged a triple double for the entire season, and then he did so against the Rockets in the playoffs. Except the Thunder were smoked by the Rockets and Westbrook shot terribly (38 percent from the field, 26 percent on 3-pointers). He needed help, Westbrook’s twitter defenders shouted.
Yet the Thunder are down 3-1 to the Jazz, and Westbrook should shoulder most of the blame. He’s once again shooting terribly (36 percent; 21 percent on 3-pointers), and he’s actually being outplayed by Ricky Rubio, who is in the playoffs for the first time in his career. When Westbrook is being defended by Rubio, he’s shooting just 11-of-35 and missed all five of his 3-pointers.
Who will the legion of Westbrook defenders blame now? Carmelo Anthony is a shell of his former self (23 percent shooting on 3-pointers). This is true. OKC misses Andre Roberson badly; they were 4-0 against the Jazz this season with him. Billy Donovan is getting outclassed by Quinn Snyder. (You can’t blame Paul George, even though some will surely try.)
Let’s say the Thunder don’t come back to win this series. Will everyone finally admit they were wrong about Russell Westbrook, and he’s not a leader, he doesn’t elevate his teammates, and there’s a realistic chance that if a minor miracle doesn’t happen, Westbrook may never win another playoff series again?
Paul George will certainly be gone if they lose this series (few thought he’d actually stay, regardless) and Billy Donovan will probably get fired. Will any of it matter?
Russell Westbrook is set to make $35.3 million next year, when he turns 30. He’s the problem. He’s why Kevin Durant left. He held back Victor Oladipo. And now, he’s gonna chase away Paul George.
Stop blaming everyone else, and start blaming Russell Westbrook.