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.