During the second half of the Oklahoma City vs. Memphis game Durant and Westbrook got in to what is being called a "verbal altercation" but is this a big deal? Is Westbrook really the problem?
During the game Westbrook shot 0-13 with four points and six assist. Westbrook has the skills to be a big time player in the NBA and has proven already he can play at a high level. If I'm the Oklahoma City Thunder and my second best player shoots 0-13 and takes some of the horrendous shots that Westbrook took, I want my leader, Durant, to get in his face. Kevin Durant, being the leader that he is, better say something to his teammate playing like that. This should, in all honesty, be a non-story. I would be more worried if Durant did not say anything to Westbrook.
But is there still a problem in Oklahoma City? Currently the Thunder are 3-0 and have looked impressive. There is no doubt that the Thunder will make the playoffs. Being a young team they are fit for this condensed scheduled. However, as all NBA fans know, it is all about the playoffs. Last year they were beat by Dallas 4-1. Many people blamed Westbrook for looking to shoot too much, especially down the stretch. Of those many people, I was not, and am not one of them. Westbrook comes down the court almost every single possession and sees a physical miss-match. Westbrook can get to the rim as well as anyone in the NBA and, if I'm OKC, I want Westbrook taking a good amount of shots. The shot selection needs to be improved, but I want him taking a large number of shots. Right below the number Durant takes.
So what is the problem? They do not have any great passers. Last year Westbrook averaged 8.2 assist, 9th in the NBA. That is not bad, however, their next leader was Durant at 2.7. This is where the problem is. (No, it's not Durant) It is the fact they need more passers. To compare let's look at the Sacramento Kings in 2001-2002. This Kings team lost in the Western Conference finals to the Lakers 4-3. Mike Bibby was their point guard and he only averaged 5.0 assist per game. Bibby was not in the least bit a "pass first point guard." The difference being
they had great passing big men. They had Chris Webber (4.8 assist per game) and Vlade Divac (3.7 assist per game.) What is really the problem for the Oklahoma City Thunder is not having big men that are both willing and talented enough to make an impact with their passing.