“Never waste your time trying to explain yourself to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.” – Unknown
Russell Westbrook told the world numerous times that he loves Oklahoma City he loves the people and there is no other place he would rather be. Still, the media said he’s leaving. He’s going home to LA. He will be playing with the Lakers taking Paul George to play with LeBron James in the Gold and Purple.
No, Russell did precisely what he said he was going to do Westbrook sign the 5-years, $205 million extension signing the largest contract in NBA history after General Manager Sam Presti showed he would go to the ends of the earth for Westbrook putting to All-Star caliber stars around him.
— FOX Sports Oklahoma (@FOXSportsOK) October 2, 2017
Westbrook is returning from a legendary season were he averaged a triple-double for an entire season the second man in history to do so the first man was Oscar Robertson. He also passed the Big O’s record of 41 triple doubles in a season with Russell getting 42. Russell carried his team to the playoffs before getting eliminated by the Houston Rockets in round one to end a historic season that led him to his first MVP award.
Presti had one job this off-season get Westbrook to sign the extension well we can say mission accomplished after Presti went and turned Enes Kanter, Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis and Doug McDermott into Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Which predictably brought along the question of can Russell play with other stars after Kevin Durant walked out the door which allowed Westbrook detractors to say it was Westbrook’s fault and nobody wants to play with Russell.
If the Thunder are to be successful this season, Westbrook is the key. If Russell can’t go back to incorporating his fellow stars like he was able to do with Durant, Paul George will be going to the Lakers next season and Oklahoma will be out in the first round again and every single Westbrook hater and detractors will be correct.
If Russell Westbrook can return to how he played with Durant and show his complete evolution Oklahoma City can be playing in the NBA finals this season getting past the super team of the Golden State Warriors.
With a shooter, the caliber of Anthony that an elite passer of Westbrook, he’ll find Carmelo open at the three-point line especially when Carmelo is a 41 percent three-point catch-and-shoot player. It’s extremely dangerous to opposing teams playing the Thunder that they didn’t have to deal with last year as the Thunder were the worst team in the entire league at three-point shooting.
George might be the best possible partner for Russell Westbrook. George is going to give Westbrook the ability to play ISO against other guards. The other team is going to have to respect George as both an offensive and defensive threat that will primarily be helpful against a Golden State team. That usually hides Steph Curry from Westbrook and puts Klay Thompson on Westbrook now they cant do that with George next to Westbrook.
A lot of fans and media think it will be George that will sacrifice the most on this new Big Three team. It will be Westbrook that we look back on history as it was Russell that was the one that sacrificed the most to succeed. Westbrook averaged 31 points 10.4 assists and 10.6 rebounds per game last season. I can see him averaging 24 points 12 assists and 8.0 rebounds per game this season.
With Anthony in the offense I can see him picking up the slack on the offensive of the ball. Both George and Anthony will be huge helps with Westbrook’s assists totals there where to many times last season when Westbrook would kick it out to a team mate to see the other team on a fast break after a team mate just clang a brick off the rim, that will not be happening this season George was at 46 percent last year from the field and Anthony at 45 percent from the fields, respectively.
Westbrook has had a slow start to the preseason after getting platelet-rich plasma injection on his knee that had him missing the blue and white scrimmage and also the Rockets game. Westbrook returned against the Pelicans playing 10 minutes scoring nine points and four assists. He saw a jump in minutes against Melbourne United seeing 28 minutes scoring nine points and seven assists with five rebounds.
His best game of preseason came against Denver were he played 26 minutes scoring 20 points, where 14 of those came in the first quarter. He also had seven assists shooting 69 percent (9-of-13). Denver was the game to watch to see how good this trio can be Westbrook, George and Anthony clicked on both sides of the court that proved to be too much for the Nuggets to handle.
This season is crucial for the legacy of Westbrook. Can he incorporate other stars into a team that he has been such a massive part of? Can he pass the ball when the pass is there to be made? Can he step back out of the spotlight that he so much enjoyed in the absence of Kevin Durant now he has two over stars on his team who want the spotlight? These are questions we cant answer these are questions for Westbrook to answer over the course of this season.
Westbrook has already shown he is capable of taking a step back, as he did it for Durant. No matter if people cannot acknowledge it, Durant won multiple scoring titles with Westbrook as his running mate. Durant won an MVP with Russell.
Westbrook is going to be the best thing that’s happened to the careers of Anthony and George. Neither man has played with a player the caliber of Westbrook.
Westbrook is the key to a championship for this team, and that key is him being the player he has always been aggressive, ruthless, and utterly unstoppable, and I think he knows that.
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