The Westbrook Situation

domingo, 23 de octubre de 2011

During and after last season’s playoffs, Russell Westbrook received a lot of criticism. He was accused of playing selfishly and not deferring enough to Kevin Durant. Many singled out his play as one of the main reasons why the Thunder lost some postseason games and ended up being eliminated by Dallas. Some took it a step further and said he should be traded.

In response to this, several NBA writers defended him, saying that his mistakes were due to his young age and lack of experience at his position, and that the Thunder would be crazy to trade him. According to them, all he needed was time to mature as a point guard.

The truth is, Westbrook did play selfishly and he did take too many bad shots. He disrupted the offense at key moments of games. In some plays in which a pass was obviously the right thing to do, he shot the ball himself. All this hurt the Thunder’s chances, and while his play wasn’t the only reason they lost, it certainly was among the most important ones.

As I said before, some people have guaranteed that he will not play like that forever, and that he only needs experience as a point guard to correct those issues, but there’s no reason to be sure of that. There has been a fair share of NBA players that have played selfishly throughout their whole careers. Why couldn’t Westbrook be one of them? Why should we assume that he will change? Contrary to popular opinion, he has already proved he is capable of playing like a point guard should. He did it in the regular season by averaging over 8 assists per game. He never stopped being a shoot-first PG, but that didn’t prevent him from getting his teammates involved or letting Durant be the focal point of the offense. As he gets more experience, he might be able to further improve his passing abilities, but that is not the problem. He has the ability. He just doesn’t seem to have the willingness to be a team player at all times. It looks like he feels that in important games or moments, he needs to take over offensively. That would explain why he played that way in the playoffs, but not in the regular season.

If Westbrook is not willing to change his style of play, the team might be better off trading him if the right offer comes along. If he just needed to improve his point guard skills, as they say, then it wouldn’t make any sense to trade him, but he needs to change his mindset, and that is unlikely to happen anytime soon, if it ever does. The Thunder can’t afford to have one of their stars hindering their chances every postseason. If they do choose to explore trade options, though, they should be careful, as trading Westbrook without getting a good enough return would be worse than keeping him.

Another option would be to find a different head coach with more offensive knowledge who would tell Westbrook not to hog the ball in crunch time and at the same time improve the team’s late game offensive repertoire. That coach would have to be a good fit for the team though, and Russell might not listen to him either, so it wouldn’t be a guaranteed solution to the problem.

Since there isn’t any one move that would solve the problem for sure, the Oklahoma City front office needs to consider all its options. They shouldn’t decide against trading him or making a coaching change yet, but after the lockout ends, they need to take some time to evaluate their options and see whether or not it is smart to make a change of some kind. However, if they can’t find a good trade or a better coach for the team, their young, potential-laden team might lose out on a chance to win multiple championships, all because of a star point guard with a selfish style of play.

2 comentarios:

Jadm14 dijo...

Westbrook himself wont change his mindset, but I think a coach more severe would be more effective since Scott Brooks is a pro-player coach.

Abel Ramírez dijo...

You're probably right. He seems to think everything is fine with the way he played, and the problem is, Brooks seems to be OK with it too.

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