There was a very small sample size of minutes Russell Westbrook played without Kevin Durant on the court last season, but one thing was clear: Westbrook took a lot of shots.
That’s the expectation of many as the Thunder will now have to go at least the first month of the season (and more likely closer to Christmas) without Durant, the league’s leading scorer and reigning MVP. There are a lot of questions around about what this means for the Thunder.
The feeling among some is it will all Westbrook all the time.
Except Westbrook says that’s not the case. Coach Scott Brooks said the same thing. Here are the quotes, via Royce Young of ESPN.
“It’s not about me. It’s about our team. I can’t win games by myself. I can’t do anything by myself,” Westbrook said Monday. “I kind of want to take the attention off me and put it more on the team. Everybody keeps asking what I’m going to do and how I’m going to change. I think it’s more about our team and what we can do.”
Asked how his role might change, Westbrook responded simply, “It doesn’t.”
“One of the things I’m smart enough to realize is we’re not going to replace Kevin’s offensive efficiency, his scoring, his playmaking, his defense,” Brooks said. “But what we can do as a group is get better, so that when he does come back, when he’s ready to come back, we can be a better team.”
What else did you expect them to say?
Westbrook is right he can’t do it all himself — Reggie Jackson, Serge Ibaka, Perry Jones and Jeremy Lamb among others are going to have to step up. The question is how much will Westbrook let them and how much will he just try to take over in key spots?
The Thunder have shown flashes of better ball movement in the preseason, the kind of plays they need to make whether Durant is on the floor or not to create better, easier looks for themselves all season and heading into the playoffs. More like that team that knocked them out of the postseason last year.
If the Thunder start to show that they become much more dangerous whenever KD does come back. If not… well, the Westbrook show is still very entertaining and will win a lot of games.