For the third straight year, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder stand at the gates of elimination in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Blazers are shooting the lights out of the gym, and the Thunder do not seem to have an answer.
Who is most to blame for their struggles? Among a host of other flaws, the play of Westbrook is starting to really rub folks the wrong way. Put aside the triple-doubles, and that energetic "do or die" attitude, and one starts to think that maybe his offensive limitations are hurting his team more than his stat-padding play is helping.
Shannon Sharpe literally compared Westbrook to a "good-looking girl," noting how his stats and numbers are misleading the public about the truth of his play.
"Russell Westbrook is that good-looking girl that we overlook all the other flaws — she has a terrible personality, she's not really nice to people and she has a bad attitude. What Russ has seduced us with is the triple-double ... we forget how poorly he shot the ball."
In Game 4 against the Blazers, Russ scored 14 points on an abysmal 5/21 shooting (23%) and 2/7 from three. While he is certainly not the only one to blame for OKC's 111-98 loss, it's fair to say that ridiculous shooting display did not help.
Russ has a rigid, "inflexible" game. He will not change for his teammates, his coaches, or his team. Despite his poor shooting displays, he will continue to shoot.
True, Russ is a great player and deserves recognition for what he does on the court. But if this latest playoff series against the Blazers proves anything, it proves that he might not be the best guy to lead a Championship team. The Thunder, who are locked in with Westbrook for at least a few more seasons, will either have to find a way to win with him or will have to suffer more losing seasons at the hands of their premier superstar.