OKC Thunder: What Russell Westbrook must improve in his game

(Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Here’s a look at three key areas that Russell Westbrook must improve in his game if the OKC Thunder want to have a shot at contending for an NBA title.

There’s no denying the greatness of Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook. The league has never seen a guard so dynamic, relentless and explosive all in one package. Former MVP Derrick Rose came close, but injuries stripped away much of his athleticism during his prime years.

Westbrook is arguably the most athletic point guard to ever play the game.

Night in and night out, the ferocity and viciousness in which he plays with is unmatched. Some say it compares to former Philadelphia 76ers legend Allen Iverson.

Westbrook, in a way, mirrors Iverson in this sense: His type of playing style can make it much more difficult to win an NBA title.

The bottom line is, with all of that talent and skill oozing out of Westbrook’s body, there are those who are still wondering if OKC Thunder will ever win with his current style of play.

Ever since Kevin Durant opted to leave OKC to team up with the “Splash Brothers” in the Bay Area in 2016, Westbrook’s teams have been bounced out of the first round of the playoffs every year.

In 2017, it was a 4-1 series loss to the Houston Rockets, then a 4-2 series loss to the Utah Jazz in 2018, and finally, this year’s debacle against the Portland Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard drained a walk-off 3-pointer in Paul George‘s grill, and then waved goodbye to the entire squad.

The Thunder lost that series 4-1, by the way, and their star player didn’t sound like someone who understood his game needs to change.

Yes, Russ averaged a triple-double in the regular season for all three of those years. Yes, he’s the first player to ever accomplish that feat. But sports has a short menu — wins and losses.

The whispers are beginning to grow louder and louder. Westbrook’s always been under the microscope, but eyes are on him more than ever now. After being voted the league’s most overrated player in an anonymous NBA player poll conducted by The Athletic, the feeling is that Westbrook absolutely must improve certain areas of his game if he wants to give his squad a chance at competing for a championship.

With that being said, here are three key areas where Westbrook must improve if the Thunder want to even sniff the NBA Finals again.