Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook Better Together Than Ever Before

Dec 21, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) celebrates a score with forward Kevin Durant (3right) during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center. The Thunder won 113-100. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 21, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) celebrates a score with forward Kevin Durant (3right) during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center. The Thunder won 113-100. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /

There’s been this lingering notion for years now that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook don’t coexist on the court for the Oklahoma City Thunder in the smoothest of ways.

It’s not a crazy thing to think and there is some truth in their styles not exactly being made for each other. Both are perimeter scorers and there is only one basketball. Durant is the more natural-born scorer yet is playing with an unnatural point guard in Westbrook, whose distributing instincts aren’t exactly pure.

The notion has led to many believing the two may not even like playing together that much. It started when Westbrook started taking more shots than Durant around the 2010-11 season. As if Westbrook was starting to take from Durant what he believed he deserved. And for the less efficient (by a wide margin back then) player, it almost seemed selfish.

ALSO ON HOOPSHABIT: 25 Best Players To Play For The Thunder

With the Thunder falling short of a title year after year, the belief of KD and Russ together not working gathers steam, because winning a title is the only way to silence doubt in this league.

Just in the last two seasons, we have seen both Durant and Westbrook put up the best numbers of their careers when the other was sidelined with an injury, adding fuel to the notion.

But there is no doubt the Thunder need both to be the best team they can. There is also no evidence that the two have any hard feelings toward each other. In reality, they enjoy celebrating each others accomplishments. Just watch the games, it’s pretty obvious.

More from Oklahoma City Thunder

No one should really care what the majority of Internet commenters or the guys on First Take think. What matters is what happens on the court. And how Durant and Westbrook play together has been without question one of the more intriguing aspects of the franchise since its inception.

Coming into this season, the duo is entering uncharted territory. Westbrook is coming off an insane season, one in which he led the league in scoring and tried to do more than any player basically ever. And he did a lot, almost as much as Michael Jordan during his early years. Then you have Durant coming off three foot surgeries in the past year.

This is the closest the two have ever been perceived as players, the closest they’ve ever been to 1A and 1B.

Having a 1A and a 1B hasn’t appeared to be a formula for winning a title. Go down the list of champions and there was almost always a clear alpha dog. Even looking at the Miami Heat’s run with LeBron James, it wasn’t until Dwyane Wade decided to step aside and let LeBron be the man that they won a championship.

It’s almost enough to make you think a 1A and 1B situation is cause for concern.

Really what’s happened in OKC is this: Westbrook is the playing the best basketball of his career and Durant is still feeling his way back from injury.

So Friday night when the Thunder beat the Orlando Magic in double overtime, we saw Westbrook running the show down the stretch. Billy Donovan had Durant playing the 4 for most of the fourth quarter and overtimes. In the halfcourt, it was almost all Westbrook as the pick-and-roll ball handler. Durant was used setting screens a lot, but often was just spotting up.

The action was better than what we’re used to in OKC. The spacing was about as good as it gets. Surround a Westbrook pick-and-roll with three shooters and that’s what happens. There weren’t any designed Durant isolations. Most decisions were made by Westbrook.

More from Hoops Habit

It worked Friday night. It’s how the Thunder erased a double-digit deficit in less than a quarter. It may be a sign of things to come or it may be situational. You can go small against the Magic and with only one (kind of) rim protector, Westbrook attacking at the speed he does makes a lot of sense.

What Friday night doesn’t mean is some changing of the guard, the Thunder under Donovan making it Westbrook’s team and less of KD’s. What we really saw Friday night was how the two can complement each other so well. The strengths of both were used simultaneously in that late-game set. They worked together.

They’ve worked together in the past and very well a lot of the time. It’s already starting to look a little different under Donovan. We haven’t seen as much Durant handling out top but frankly, that’s probably a good thing. Durant always did have to do a lot of work with the ball away from the hoop. Why not start him closer to it?

At the end of the day, it’s not about which one is the alpha dog because alpha dog is just a term that sounds cool. It’s not necessarily a real thing. How does what all of those teams before did really have anything to do with this Thunder team that is made up of these specific players? Probably nothing.

Durant and Westbrook sharing the load more, blending their strengths better, utilizing their role players more, those are positives. We’re two games in but already seeing different things under Donovan. What we’ve seen between his two best players is encouraging to say the least.

Next: NBA: Top 10 MVP Candidates In 2015-16

I mean, Friday night they did become the first teammates since 1996 to each score 40-plus points in game. That’s something, I think.