Winners Of The Offseason: Russell Westbrook

Dec 10, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) takes the floor prior to action against the Atlanta Hawks at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 10, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) takes the floor prior to action against the Atlanta Hawks at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports /

Nobody in the NBA had a better offseason than Russell Westbrook.

For Russell Westbrook, nothing has changed but everything has changed.

Everyone’s favorite pre-game dancing, rim-destroying, enigmatic point guard/fashionista hasn’t done much this offseason, but he’s managed to be the biggest individual winner of the offseason.

As recently as June, Westbrook was perceived as an out-of-control point guard who was a little too full of himself for the public’s liking. He was considered moody, irrationally confident and a bit of a prick with the media.

Until Monday’s preseason game against Real Madrid, the last time we saw Westbrook, he was being finished off by the Warriors and blowing a 3-1 series lead before the Warriors made it into a meme.

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Without him doing anything outside of adding a year and picking up an $8 million raise, we think of him in an entirely different way.

He’s a hero. He’s loyal. He’s ranked above LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and everyone not named Stephen Curry in the MVP odds. He’s going to average a triple-double. The 2016-17 season has been named the Russell Westbrook Revenge Tour.

He got an $8 million raise just to add another year to his contract, so that he can sign a mega-deal in 2018-19. He was compared to Michael Jordan, by Jordan himself.

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This has been the summer of Russell Westbrook and it might just extend into being his year.

The Golden State Warriors and Kevin Durant was the story of the offseason for about a week after the blockbuster signing. Since then, the conversation has revolved around Westbrook.

The end result of the NBA Finals has never felt more pre-determined. Barring critical injuries, it would be a shock if we’re not treated to a Cavaliers and Warriors rematch (three-match?) in the Finals.

If we want drama, we have to look elsewhere. Enter Angrier Russell Westbrook, trying to destroy opponents and the record books simultaneously.

You know how you couldn’t get on Twitter or Facebook last season without seeing Vines of Stephen Curry every day? That’s the expectation for Westbrook in this upcoming season.

Instead of shooting threes from 40 feet, Westbrook will be destroying rims and doing Russell Westbrook things.

Next season, we’re going to get all the Westbrook we can handle and then some more. Even with a recent MVP on his team, Westbrook led the league in usage rate last season.

In 2014-15, with Durant limited to 27 games, Westbrook finished with the second-highest usage rate in league history (38.37, via Basketball-Reference)

Throughout his career, Westbrook’s numbers when Durant isn’t sharing the floor have been off-the-wall.

Last season, Westbrook had a season that was statistically on-par with one of the most famous seasons in NBA history.

Many NBA viewers, myself included, always have wondered what an NBA world where Durant and Westbrook aren’t teammates would be like.

Would Westbrook average a triple-double?

Could Durant go for 40 a night on his own team?

Can Westbrook lead a winner?

Durant will be sharing the load in Golden State, so some of those questions will remain unknown. With Westbrook, we will find out the answers. NBA history is flooded with “What if’s…” that remain just that.

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It’s rare we ever get to live in a world where we actually get to see these things happen.

We’ll get just that with Westbrook. Westbrook could break the record for usage rate in a season. He might average a triple-double. He could average a triple-double while being the scoring champion.

His battles against the Warriors will likely be one of the most memorable things about the 2016-17 season.

Westbrook has emerged as the superstar to watch in 2016-17. All of his perceived flaws (his ball-dominance, his out-of-control style) have turned into things that make him so fascinating to watch.

The Thunder aren’t better off without Durant on the team, but Westbrook will be.

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On-the-court and off of it, Russell Westbrook is unquestionably the individual winner of the offseason.