Feb 23, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) attempts a shot against the Los Angeles Clippers at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma City Thunder: Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant?

Feb 23, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket against Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (32) during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s admit it, there is a big elephant in the Oklahoma City Thunder locker room. If it hasn’t happened yet, some doubt might creep into the heads of the Oklahoma City Thunder players.  That’s just human extinct. Kevin Durant is a better player when Russell Westbrook is not on the court. There is no denying the facts, Durant has played like the best basketball player on the planet the last two months.  No one in the Thunder organization  will publicly admit this fact because they know the next statement I make is true. The Thunder can’t win a NBA title without Russell Westbrook. Need evidence? Just look at how the Grizzles dismantled the Westbrook-less Thunder in last year’s playoffs. Heck, remember Westbrook’s Game 7 triple-double against the Grizzlies in 2011? Westbrook’s talent and ultimately downfall is his aggressiveness.  His team is currently paying the price as he is working his way back from surgery. The former UCLA point guard is shooting a  career low 41.6 percent from the field and turning the ball over at a career high rate of four times a game. The Thunder will ride out Westbrook’s struggles until he is once his All-Star self again, but will the Durant-Westbrook duo work in the long run?

This year’s playoffs can potentially determine the future of the Durant and Westbrook relationship. For the sake of the article, lets say the Thunder collapse in the playoffs and don’t make the NBA Finals. Would it then be fair to say the Thunder need a makeover? Was James Harden then the soul of the team back in 2012? With the exception of San Antonio Spurs, the Western Conference is young. The Rockets, Clippers, Grizzlies, Trail Blazers and Suns will all get better over the next three to four years. Can the Thunder really get significantly better? Not with Serge Ibaka‘s contract. Something has got to give and the Thunder will have to pick between the two stars.

Which is the better duo?

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Don’t believe me? Maybe you should then take a NBA history class. Who does the Durant-Westbrook combo remind you of? To me, they are this generations Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash. Both top five players in the league in their prime, All-Stars and MVPs. Nothing against them, but they didn’t really work together. Nash was in Dallas from 1998-2004. During his time there, the Mavericks made the playoffs four times. The results? One first-round exit, two second-round exits and a conference finals appearance. Nothing to frown at, but with two MVP-type players, you would have expected a little more, right? Two years after Nash’s departure from Dallas, Dirk led his Mavericks to a NBA Finals appearance. Also, of course, the Mavs won a NBA title three years ago.

I’m a strong supporter of James Harden. Could he have been the glue to the OKC team in 2012? I believe so. Either way, this year’s playoffs will be a huge indicator of the future of the Durant-Westbrook duo. Let’s see if history repeats itself.

Tags: Kevin Durant NBA Oklahoma City Thunder Russell Westbrook

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