Unfulfilled: OKC Thunder Game 6 player grades following heartbreaking loss

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - APRIL 27: Russell Westbrook
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - APRIL 27: Russell Westbrook /
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OKC Thunder
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – APRIL 27: Jerami Grant /

Player Grades

OKC Starting Rotation:

A+. . PG. Oklahoma City Thunder. RUSSELL WESTBROOK

There are a few simple truths about Russell Westbrook. The point guard is the most polarizing player in the NBA. What other superstar has been grabbed at by fans this season? (Let alone on three occasions). He is every inch of the term superstar and is an alpha leader. Never shy to step to the challenge and every player who has ever been a teammate (aside from the one superstar who bolted for the Bay) has nothing but positives to reap upon him.

Again, in the days to follow there will be time to dissect and ask the hard questions. Topping the list will be items such as whether Westbrook is coachable or could be put in a system to capitalize on his amazing talents. What cannot be debated, whether you are a major fan (pointing a finger at myself) or frustrated by his style, is that he doesn’t just step into the light, he seizes the very spot out of the light.

And, to be fair as several OKC Thunder beat writers tweeted during the match, Westbrook repeatedly tried to involve his four court mates, but on virtually every occasion they gave the ball right back as they shrunk away from that spotlight.

In the end, Russ put up yet another Beastbrook performance of 46 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and two steals.

Whether you love Westbrook or love to hate him there is no denying he is a generational superstar and the one OKC Thunder player who did his very best to win this series.

C. . SG. Oklahoma City Thunder. COREY BREWER

I’ve been rather outspoken regarding the addition of Corey Brewer. As it turned out he filled a role for the Thunder to finish the stretch run. The best part of Brewer’s energy and constant motion was it resulted in refocusing the Thunder to push pace.

I won’t even jump on a soap box to point out his defensive deficiencies. Because short of having Andre Roberson miraculously pull a Willis Reed there wasn’t another Thunder defender capable of tackling the series greatest obstacle. To stop the burgeoning rise of Donovan Mitchell into his own elite realm.

D. . SF. Oklahoma City Thunder. PAUL GEORGE

Everyone associated with the OKC Thunder whether directly or indirectly has walked the fine line of not wanting to negatively critique the impending free agent. I’ve ventured into those rough waters a few times because I simply expected more. Injuries may inevitably have been a factor in the series and fairly there were moments of brilliance.

That said, on the night Paul George may have played his last sporting an OKC Thunder jersey, the two players traded to obtain him were pivotal in Indiana’s Game 6 thumping of LeBron James Cavaliers to force a game 7. Victor Oladipo posted a triple double (28 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists) with four steals. Reserve Domantas Sabonis scored 19 points with 6 rebounds (4 offensive) and was a team high plus +28.

Conversely, on what ended up being the self anointed Playoff P’s final audition prior to entering free agency he failed to measure up.  PG shot an abysmal 2 of 16 from the field, 0 of 7 from the perimeter and finished with an anemic five points. Furthermore, he turned the ball over six times (one more than Westbrook). George did step up to dish eight assists (five to Steven Adams, 3 to Westbrook and 1 to Felton) and grab 3 rebounds and added a steal.

Countdown to free agency:

With George due to enter the free agent market this final performance did little to raise his market value as Royce Young pointed out. More than any player on the current iteration of the OKC roster George’s decision affects the franchises future.

George was brought to OKC to offset the load and burden for Westbrook. This elimination match offered the perfect opportunity for George to showcase why OKC so strongly coveted his addition and took a huge risk on a potential one year rental.

In the end, he’s opened the door for whether the Thunder will enter this offseason with as much enthusiasm to retain his services. More importantly, whether they’ll enter a bidding war to re-sign him given his failure to deliver when it mattered most.

D. . PF. Oklahoma City Thunder. CARMELO ANTHONY

Although Anthony draws the same score as George it is for entirely different reasons. On the few occasions Melo was given shot opportunities he was efficient (3 of 7 pr 42.8 percent). Effort was not the issue as his exertion was clear. Yet, for the 33 (soon to be 34) year old his porousness on the defensive side of the hardwood made him unplayable. To wit, Melo finished with a team worst -18 differential.

The sad part is Melo seems to have taken to OKC, Westbrook and the team, but his services at close to $28 million next season are a waste of cap space. The best OKC can hope for is the highly unlikely possibility Anthony will opt out of his contract so the Thunder can move on from this failed experiment.

A+. . C. Oklahoma City Thunder. STEVEN ADAMS

Unquestionably Steven Adams best game of the series. Unlike Melo and PG the big Kiwi rode the wave with Westbrook and offered a viable option. His double-double of 19 points and 16 rebounds (8 offensive), 3 assists, a block and steal don’t even truly reflect how much of a presence the center was on court. Nor does it reflect the copious ways Adams positively affected the game.

And, he did this while Rudy Gobert couldn’t foul hard enough to warrant a whistle.  I maintain Adams played through injury in this series. But, kudos to the big man for being the only starter worthy of being paired with Westbrook in some form of moniker. To that end, it sure felt like the OK2 when all was said and done.