NBA

Are the Oklahoma City Thunder better off without Russell Westbrook?

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The Oklahoma City Thunder are currently trailing 3-2 in their opening round playoff series with the Memphis Grizzlies and if they were to make an early exit from the post-season, many people will want the blame to be placed somewhere.

The number two seeded Thunder were many experts pick to advance out of the dangerous Western Conference but unfortunately for them, they squared off against the team that everyone wanted to avoid early, the Memphis Grizzlies.

Oklahoma City have no way underestimated the Grizzlies, the series has trumped up four straight overtime contests and no one belittles the lead that Memphis currently holds, but there are serious questions being raised over the demise of the Thunder.

After their loss in game five, a remarkable stat was pointed out as a possible reason for the lack of chemistry the Thunder seem to be illustrating, Russell Westbrook shot the basketball 31 times.

Shooting 31 field goals in a contest isn't the worst thing especially if your making a high percentage, but Westbrook is shooting 34% from the floor and just 18% from three point range in the post season.

He's also a point guard who's primary job is to get his teammates involved and to make everyone around him better, Westbrook needs to realise the superstar on the team is Kevin Durant and there is even more evidence to show that the Thunder are better off when these two aren't on the floor together.

One of the most important stats in the NBA right now is called 'Real Plus/Minus' (RPM) which is the amount a player impacts the score per 100 possessions. 

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook's RPM individually are fantastic, another stat that backs up the fact that their two of the best players in the league, Durant +6.53 and Westbrook +4.49.

Though when the two of them are together they are only +7.4, the Thunder this season have 28 different combinations of two players that are better than the pairing of Durant and Westbrook.

The two are also 9th and 10th on their own team for defensive efficiency, meaning that if you put one of the stars on the bench, the whole squad instantly becomes more effective defensively.

The final statistic that shows the ineptitude of the two playing at the same time is the usage they both require, Westbrook is 1st in the NBA with a 33.5 usage rate whilst Durant is 2nd in the league with 31.2, there simply isn't enough of the basketball to go around and no one else on the team seems to get much of the ball on offence. 

You can't argue against the talent of the two players but the stats point to them simply not being able to play with each other.

An argument is to play backup point guard Reggie Jackson who may act as a more conventional point guard, distributing the ball and engineering a functional offence. Therefore Westbrook could come off the bench and work as the second unit leader.

Either way the Thunder need need to find a way for the two stars  to co-exist otherwise they could see an early exit from this years playoffs.

Topics:
Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant
NBA

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