Kevin Durant is better off without Russell Westbrook

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Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant has lost his mojo since the return of point guard Russell Westbrook.

As much as Westbrook's return should make the Thunder better it hasn't, and Oklahoma's results have suffered since he recovered from his knee injury.

The 25-year-old guard has had three surgeries on his knees since he collided with Patrick Beverley in the first round of last season's playoffs.

Since his return Westbrook has played at a high level for the Thunder, but naturally they have had to change their style of play again to accommodate him.

During his time out Oklahoma and Durant soured to heights that could not have been foreseen.

Durant had a career couple of months and it's no coincidence that Westbrook was out during that period.

The small forward was used to taking the game by the horns without Westbrook, and naturally as he was taking more shots he was making more points.

The big man couldn't carry the Thunder forever and at some point he would have hit the wall, but with Westbrook back he seems like he has been neutered.

Westbrook has taken over since he's been back, which for him personally has been great. He's impressed but the Thunder as a team have dropped five games in the last two weeks.

The Thunder are clearly better with Durant taking over rather than Westbrook taking over, but the big man can't do that all season.

At the moment OKC are just going through somewhat of a transition with Russ coming back into the team.

It may certainly be working for him, as he showed again even in the 114-110 loss to the LA Lakers Sunday with an impressive effort on offense and defense.

It's easy to blame Durant's average play simply on the return of Westbrook and how he demands the ball and takes opportunities away from KD, but the power forward needs to shoulder the responsibility of this issue.

Before the Lakers debacle, Thunder coach Scott Brooks explained, "Let's face it, if he wanted to score a bunch of points or more than he's scoring now, he really could do that."

It seems that Durant needs to shoot more for the Thunder to be successful down the road, and the findings of a poll by Sportsnation concur with that assessment.

Of the 8,479 fans that voted, 68 per cent of them agree that Durant should try to score more.

The Thunder have already lost the top spot in the Western Conference, and heading towards the post-season they could struggle if they don't get the Westbrook/Durant balance right.

That's their challenge if the want to become champions, because a NBA title fighting Thunder is a Thunder with Durant firing on all cylinders.

Kevin Durant
Oklahoma City Thunder
NBA Playoffs

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