Friday, June 22nd, 2012 at 9:40 am  |  22 responses

Russell Westbrook Says OKC Thunder Need to Get Better

Russell Westbrook acknowledged that his team needs to improve in order to get over the hump and win a title. From the Oklahoman: “What did they do differently against you? ‘They just attacked the ball. They did a good job of attacking us on the pick and roll and attacking the ball and making it tough.’ In the end, did it come down to defense for Miami winning this championship? ‘They just found a way to win. I don’t think our guys came out and didn’t want to defend. It’s just unfortunate for us and I know how hard our guys worked on this team to get better to try to stop them. I don’t know what it came down to but they just were the better team.’ Near the end, you, Kevin Durant and James Harden were standing in the corner. What were you guys discussing at that point? ‘Just we’ve got to get better. We hugged each other to embrace this feeling and remember this feeling. We kind of looked around. We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to be the guys that come back and push. We’ve got to get better so we find a way to get back here.’”

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  • jayrose

    Thunder are good, I agree with the whole defense needs to improve but the main concern is westbrook is the POINT GUARD of the team he needs to stop shooting so much. I’m well aware that he can shoot and make buckets but there shouldn’t be any reason why he shoots more than Durant.

  • http://slamonline.com samoaninlondon

    Thunder are feeble – brooks should have been playing ibaka/perkins a lot more than he did. Miami just bossed the thunder like little kids

  • Treshiq

    Russell just shouldn’t be at point! i will stand by that till my legs fall off. He’s a GREAT player that needs to be utilized as a 2 guard. It’s hard to watch him try and run an offense. eh shouldn’t me making those plays ( b/c they rarealy happen) He should be the option to be finishing the play. they need Maynor back.

  • Wixurrs

    Westbrook is awesome when he’s ON but awful he’s not. He’s not solid enough to act like he’s the first option. With his style of play he’s like a Steve Francis right now. He’s not at an Iverson level yet.

  • ClydeSays

    Waaaaaaay too many layups by the Heat. The Thunder are just not there defensively. Westbrook can & will mature as a playmaker, but the team as a whole has to get better at making plays & defending the paint. Also the Heat had role players having career nights at various times, like Battier, Chalmers & Miller. Meanwhile Harden was below average & no one else stepped up. They’ll be back, in one form or another…

  • huami

    he will not be on iverson’s level. ever. Even Drose isn’t. Put AI on the current chicago squad and im pretty sure it equates to a championship.

  • Chuck

    Give the kids some room to grow. Think of what you were like at 22 or 23. The team needs a mobile center who doesn’t fumble every pass thrown his way, Maynor back, for Brooks to become more flexible and a little time. Jordan and LBJ didn’t win until they were 28. One year makes a huge difference in understanding the nuances of playoff games.

  • bike

    If they can keep the OKC kids together, their day will come. Durant and Westbrook, especially, will kill themselves this offseason to get better and they will get better.

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    Man, people still don’t realize that Westbrook doesn’t need to be a pass first point guard. The reason they made it to the Finals is because of Westbrook’s attacking nature that keeps the defense honest. If he was a pass first point guard, GUESS who is he going to pass it to with Ibaka, Perkins, and Thabo out there? Obviously Durant. SMH at people who still believe he needs to be a pass first point guard.

  • Michelle

    Its the job of the pointguard to make his teammates better.
    Russel Westbrook needs to understand that!

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    Cosign the hell out of niQ. His score first nature isn’t the main problem why they lost. Hell he kept them in the game in Game 4. Instead of singing the same narrative about Westbrook why don’t we talk about Harden’s play, Ibaka being a non factor, Perkins inability to catch the f*ckin ball, or Scotty Brooks inability to make necessary adjustments?

  • Ldub

    @Samoan….the problem with OKC vs Miami matchup (and playing perk/ibaka more) is the defensive liability. There was a stretch in game 4 i believe when ibaka was guarding Battier. You cant have the leagues leading shot blocking on the perimeter. Takes away his defensive presents and when ppl get beat to the rack, there is no help. Then if he does help…its a wide open 3. Just about everyone on the Heat squad can shoot from distance. They have very good ball movement and only force a shot if the shot clock is down. With all that being said, Brooks was playing the matchups. Plus Ibaka and Perk are not offensive threats. So then youre limited to KD, RW and JH (assuming they are on the floor at the same time). But if not then what are you left with? A speedy, athletic defensive focused on 1 or 2 players. One who can do just about anything (KD) and another who either drives, or pulls the mid range. When you dont have the offensive options, the defensive becomes that much more effective.

  • Ldub

    @Niq….i just think he needs to pass a bit more and not take as many reckless shots. He averaged 23 and 8 two seasons ago. Those are amazing pg #’s. And if he can set up Ibaka or Perk for a dunk then so be it. Doesnt have to be all the time, but it needs to be more than him running down the lane and missing a layup. I like his aggressive nature. He’s gotta take his foot off the gas pedal just a tad, and control the tempo of the game a little bit more. I dont want him to be a pass first pg, just pass more. If that makes sense.

  • Ldub

    @T-Ray….agreed there as well. Harden had one good game, in game 2 (maybe 3) i believe and they still lost. Someone made comments about how much he flops and I didnt realize it til last night. Lebrons phantom elbow to his beard, the flopping (head thrown back) drives, the flopping charge attempts. I payed attention the last few games and dude is major flopper. Perk is…well…damn…i cant even describe it. I feel they have too many defensive players that cant generate points on the offensive end. Like a Battier or Cole. You gotta have production on both sides. Whether its buckets or boards.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    I agree on all points Ldub. The thing is OKC is built well defesively but this isn’t football. You gotta play both sides. I mean it’s sad when a seasoned vet like Perkins gives you nothing but Norris “muthaf*ckin” Cole can be a spark in Games 4&5. Also Harden is on his way to being the biggest flopper in the league. Like you I never noticed until the last couple games.

  • http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine VanCityBBall

    its not that westbrook needs to shoot less and give the ball to durant more (okc plays their best when he is agressive), its more that he needs to realize, that if those shots aren’t falling he might as well get the rest of the team going

  • Ldub

    I guess because OKC didnt get a lot of TV time. Im in Cali so I would get both LA teams and then whatever the big matchup is on NBA TV (that fans vote for). Every now and then Id get a Golden State game. But from highlights/stats stand points, I thought Harden was beastin on all-star “cant nobody guard me” level. Little did I know he is 22 and kinda plays like it. There are people that flop a lot, Paul Pierce, Pau Gasol, Ginobli etc, but I didnt know Harden was so high on the list. None the less. I think either Perk or Ibaka has to go…or at least need to spell each other. They are a liability offensively. OKC got away with it with the Spurs because SA isnt nearly as athletic or quick as Miami. Nor do they have the offensive weapons as Miami. So you have Duncan in the post, TP (who can shoot 3s, or doesnt enough) driving to the paint. Ginobli who can do it all, but not at a high clip because of Parker and Duncan. It all made it easier for OKC when they were able to get out and run and SA couldnt keep up. Miami took their punches and punched them back! Even in game 1 when they lost.

  • Ldub

    @VanCity Even if those shots are falling and he is shooting a great %…its a team sport. Thats why he dropped 43 in a loss. Im not blaming him but you have to get EVERYONE envolved. Its 1 of 2 things. Either he doesnt trust them, or he wants to be the hero all the time. Or even wants to get them back in the game with 1 shot. His decision making is the key. Keep the aggressiveness, keep the shot attempts. But with his offensive “shooting” IQ..he can get any shot he wants. His quickness, agility and athleticism should allow him to get the highest % shot available, not necessarily the first shot he THINKS he can hit. That also plays into the team chemistry aspect, because it takes away from the flow of the game. If RW is coming down going one on one (or 1 on 5)…its kills the rhythm for other players. So when youre cold from not shooting for 5 straight possessions, which could be 2-3 minutes…its hard to generate an effective offense. You see guys like Perk or Thabo (who arent offensive threats) becoming black holes because, lets face it, regardless of your “role”…ppl want to shoot and score every now and then. “Russ aint passed in 8 possession…im getting my bucket the first chance i get”! Its all about decisions, whether he can or is scoring or not.

  • dfdsfas

    russell has to play that much. if he didnot shoot that much than the Thunder would only have Harden and Durant

  • jose

    the thunder need a point guard. . .and just let westbrook play the 2. . .

  • Bob

    Not on Iverson’s level? Did you even watch Iverson? Allen Iverson was MORE inefficient than Russ is. The problem isn’t Russ specifically. KD’s defense needs a lot of work, he wasn’t setting guys up like he did in the Spurs series, he didn’t grab enough boards in some big games and he had trouble getting open. Harden needs to improve on the defensive end and just keep working on his game. Ibaka needs to start learning some post moves. Russ needs to get better with his decision making and understanding that he can control the flow and the tempo of the game. It should almost never happen that he takes 4 or 5 shots in a row unless he’s just on fire. It’s still a problem though because he’s the one with the ball in his hands and nobody is able to say no to him taking a shot, without benching him or having to carry it up the floor. With that said, this team played ISO all season and got to the finals doing it. So yes, they had their limitations but their biggest problem was defensively as they were not able to stop the Heat from getting easy points. All the easy paint points opened up the shooters and they were getting killed trying to double Lebron. Russ can play the point, you people give him way too much blame without understanding the game.

  • Bob

    They didn’t lose because Russ scored 43, they lost because of their defense. If Russ didn’t score they would have been blown out. You’ve got to watch the games to understand what is going on. Durant can’t get open to receive pass where he wants, Harden was shook, and the other guys on the floor struggle to score.