Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 at 3:34 pm  |  10 responses

Zero is Greater Than Thirty-Five

For Scott Brooks, this is the only equation that matters.

by Eddie Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan

While every Oklahoma City Thunder fan celebrates the glory of winning a hard fought triple-overtime slugfest versus the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, there was one person who was pissed, baffled beyond belief, and left without words.

That person was me.

But what I witnessed seemed more like a horror flick instead of a feel good story. I witnessed our sixth man (James Harden) easily become the best distributor on the floor. I witnessed our best player (Kevin Durant) not touch the ball for long stretches of the game, nor shoot the ball for 9 minutes in a stretch from the forth quarter and overtime. I witnessed our point guard (Russell Westbrook) turn into Kyle Lee Watson before our very eyes and go out there and “get his” if you will.

This might seem crazy for you or me, but this has to be glorious for Scott Brooks. This is exactly what he wants. I mean, why else would he allow Russell Westbrook to hijack the entire offense, make Kevin Durant the second option, and have the rest of the team feel like extras in a straight-to-DVD movie?

The only logic I have is this…

1) Brooks realizes that with Memphis having Tony Allen and Shane Battier to throw at Kevin Durant, the Thunder are going to have to find another way to score the ball.

2) Leaning on point No. 1, Russell Westbrook has been destroying Mike Conley all series. Brooks would rather exploit Memphis up top, going at Conley versus going down low with the bigs or at the wings with Durant.

3) Brooks trusts James Harden. If it’s not the Thunder running a high screen/roll to get Durant the ball, then it’s obvious that Harden is the next one trusted to make a good decision with the rock. Because he plays the 2, then Westbrook isn’t compromised.

I also believe that Scott Brooks and Maurice Cheeks (both former point guards) are living vicariously through Russell Westbrook, thereby allowing Russie the freedom to do whatever the hell he wants. When I watch No. 0 it feels like he has the mental capacity of a lima bean, some Nike socks, and this Chick-fil-A sweet tea that I’m sipping on as I type. Yet, Westbrook can literally do whatever he wants on the court. His ability to get to the rim is on par with Derrick Rose, he can get to his spot on the floor for a quality mid-range jumper, and he’s grown as a passer in three short years in the League.

For observers however, this will never matter because he’s not better than Durant in their eyes. Durant should be doing much more; he should be taking the big shots. Maybe he should be, but Durant’s limited. He relies on his outside shot so much, and struggles to get the ball with physical defenders locked on him. Maybe Scott Brooks is doing the right thing, but it doesn’t feel like it. Game 4 was torture and misery, and I’m not going to bed happy about it.

Eddie Maisonet is a freelance sports writer, blogger and big time hoops fan from Oklahoma who currently resides in Cincinnati. Keep up with Eddie at SLAMonline as well as his award-winning blog Ed The Sports Fan and on Twitter.

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  • http://www.bulls.com Rigo Gonzalez

    Nice Above the Rim reference.
    Not sure what’s going on in OKC, Durant was heated last night at not getting his touches.

  • Drew

    Dude I was wondering the exact same thing. Durant made that one 3 in the 4th to put them up by like 7 or 8 pts and then after that it was ALL WESTBROOK. He was hogging every possession.

  • Will Lee

    Westbrook is an animal. But his wild style will never bring a champ until he slows down the tempo.

  • sneezy

    I don’t know if he’s pissed about not getting his touches, its just the way the offense flows when Russ is dominating;no more than 2 passes in a set, no post entry, and due to westbrook’s inability to come off screens it is going to remain that way if Westbrook stays on this little power trip of his. For a guy who is a mediocre shot creator I think westbrook needs to look for his on the fastbreak first and foremost, then allow Harden to orchestrate the offense and let Russ and KD operate as solely scorers.

  • http://www.twitter.com/edthesportsfan Ed

    @Rigo – Durant was DEFINITELY heated, and he is your franchise…i don’t know what OKC’s gonna do.

    @Drew – I feel your pain brother, Durant’s gotta at least have some of the offense touch him.

    @Will – He is definitely an animal, and he’s kinda like a pitcher who’s “effectively wild”, you wonder if it’s going to burn the team overall.

    @Sneezy – They’re lucky to get two passes in a set. Its insane to watch.

  • APE

    If only we can transplant NASH’s brains on Russ.

  • http://itsahardwoodlife.blogspot.com omphalos

    Yeah Russ has been driving me crazy, so many bad decisions down the stretch. Durant might be limited, but he is still nearly matching Westbrook night in night out with a whole heap less touches.

  • giogolo

    SHip the russh*t out then.

  • http://wwww.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    i wish enigmatic had a comment on this.

  • http://www.twitter.com/edthesportsfan Ed

    Me too Tarzan, me too.