NBA

Russell Westbrook.

Why one superstar isn't enough for NBA franchises in this era of 'superteams'

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Russell Westbrook notched up his third triple-double of the season with an eye-catching stat line of 41 points, 12 rebounds and 16 assists last night against the Orlando Magic.

It was the point guard's 40th triple-double of his career, making him just the eighth player to reach that mark, per ESPN Stats and Information.

The five-time All-Star had a hugely efficient game going 14-for-21 from the field and hitting 13-of-18 free throws.

Despite his incredible night, however, the Oklahoma City Thunder suffered their fourth defeat of the season at home to a Magic team who still remain below .500 with the win.

That game typified the nature of the NBA at present; it's becoming increasingly difficult to win consistently with just one superstar in your ranks.

As good as Westbrook is and as ridiculous as his numbers continue to be, the direction of the league at the moment requires you to have multiple All-Stars to challenge for the top prize.

The days of one superstar carrying a franchise and winning appear to be diminishing slowly.

Phoenix Suns v Oklahoma City Thunder

Just ask Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans. The big man is enjoying a career campaign so far averaging 31.1 points, 10.7 rebounds and three blocks per game.

Those numbers certainly jump out at you, but it's hard to ignore the caveat that the Pelicans currently have the worst record in the league at 1-9.

AD even posted a 50-point game in the season opener and ended up on the losing team. He would definitely give up his impressive numbers to have more wins on the board that's for sure.

Some would point to LeBron James as being one superstar who is capable of carrying a team to success without a supporting cast but even he would struggle to make this New Orleans team a winning outfit.

Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans

The King guided the Cleveland Cavaliers to the finals in 2007 and made them the best team in the Eastern Conference despite not having a stellar supporting cast. But he was unable to secure a championship after being swept by the San Antonio Spurs who boasted Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

Even he had to admit defeat in his pursuit of the Larry O'Brien trophy in his hometown and form a 'superteam' in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to get it done.

With that experience, he returned to Cleveland and the franchise didn't make the same mistake again with owner Dan Gilbert splashing out to add All-Star forward Kevin Love to go along with LeBron and Kyrie Irving.

Many criticised LeBron for having to team up with other superstars to win a championship, but the reality is you don't win anything but admiration for trying to win as the sole superstar on a team.

San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 7

Even though he had Westbrook as his sidekick, Kevin Durant made the decision to jump ship to the Golden State Warriors to give himself a better chance of securing his ultimate goal.

He may have endured a summer of vilification, but if he becomes a champion that will all be irrelevant like it was for James in Miami.

Allen Iverson is considered one of the greatest players of all time and was inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. Among his many achievements, the point guard led the Philadelphia 76ers to an improbable finals appearance against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2001.

A 41-point outing in game one secured a shock win for the Sixers but ultimately Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant proved too strong in the series.

Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal (L) pull

The chances of a team identical to the 2001 76ers reaching the finals in this era is practically impossible. If you don't have a 'superteam' or at least two All-Star players, it'll be difficult to even make the playoffs.

While we marvel at individual talent, it ultimately comes down to team success and because of that, we're unable to truly enjoy the jaw-dropping moments produced by the likes of Davis and Westbrook on a nightly basis because of their team's struggles.

For the first time in many years, there is a separation between the top teams in the league and the rest. With the Cavs and Golden State expected to win their respective conferences and meet in the finals for a third consecutive year, where does that leave the rest of the league?

Nothing is set in stone, however, and there's usually a twist in the tale. But it's a shame to see some of today's superstars being overshadowed by their team's shortcomings.

Topics:
NBA
LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
Western Conference

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