Ever since Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder in free agency during the summer of 2016, Oklahoma City has not won a first-round playoff series. Russell Westbrook has won an MVP every season since he left and he has become known for recording triple-doubles, but Durant is the one with two championship rings and two NBA Finals MVP’s.
Every time the Thunder lose in the first-round of the playoffs, it becomes more clear why Durant left the Thunder. I think a large part of it had to do with playing on the same team with Russell Westbrook. What would have happened if Oklahoma City decided to keep James Harden and trade Westbrook?
The Oklahoma City Thunder might have reached an NBA Finals and even won it all.
People like playing with James Harden, even though there is a ton of isolation ball with him in Houston. He is willing to pass the ball even though he is the primary scorer for the Rockets. Harden is also usually the one who leads the team in scoring down the stretch when they have come-from-behind-victories. Harden is a better overall shooter than Russell Westbrook is, despite the fact that Westbrook seems to have a triple-double almost every game.
Is Westbrook still trying to prove that he doesn’t need Kevin Durant to win? Does he care more about statistics than winning a championship?
For some reason, Paul George doesn’t seem to mind playing second fiddle to Westbrook. We all know that Westbrook is one of the top players in the league, but maybe the Thunder need to move him from point guard to shooting guard. He is still under contract for four more seasons with Oklahoma City.
In some ways, Westbrook cares more about his personal battles and he has gained the reputation of being a high maintenance player, that is something that can’t be taught.
Kevin Durant has been more efficient since moving to the Bay to play with the likes of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. I understand the Golden State Warriors won a championship before he joined the team, but that may not have been the primary reason why Durant decided to join the Warriors several years ago. I think he wanted to join the Warriors because he saw them as a team full of unselfish players who have one goal in mind at the beginning of each season and that is to win a championship not to have one player win the regular season MVP award.
Harden has a similar game style to the players on the Warriors, he tries to be a team player and contributor, not just the main scorer. So far he has played well alongside Chris Paul in Houston. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see James Harden win an NBA Championship this season, but Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors will definitely be a tough match up as they continue their semifinals series, which the Warriors have taken an early lead in after winning the first game.
Some people might even argue James Harden is better than Russell Westbrook. Durant and Harden would have probably developed a great chemistry in Oklahoma City if the Thunder front office had moved Westbrook instead of Harden back in 2016. I honestly don’t think Kevin Durant would have left the Thunder if James Harden was the point guard instead of Russell Westbrook. Unfortunately, that is something we will probably never know.
The Thunder have continued their trend of making an early exit in the playoffs as they have fallen once again in the first round, this time at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant has continued to show why is better with the basketball in his hands then Westbrook, as he looks to continue helping the Warriors try and win another NBA Title this year.