Russell Westbrook Season Review: Twice in a lifetime

Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images) /
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Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook /

Can Westbrook be better  — Why Not?

Every word in this sentence is linked to a separate gif illustrating Russell Westbrook’s brilliance. Having established that brilliance, there are certainly ways that he can improve.

All of the following suggestions rely on the assumption that Paul George plays in a Thunder jersey next season. If he doesn’t, well, that’s a whole other article, entirely. Will Carmelo Anthony still be on the team? Will Russ? How can OKC ever get back to a respectable position after losing Paul George for nothing? In the mean-time, Russ has to attack this off-season assuming the best.

So, how can Russ be better next year? It starts with cutting. We’ve all seen the familiar scene: Russ, deciding that this is a possession he wants to give to someone else, comes gently around a Steven Adams screen and pitches the ball to someone on the wing, who goes on to use a second screen from Adams. Russ, meanwhile, floats gently to the corner, and settles there like an autumn leaf, his hands on his knees.

He’s no longer a threat. He’s no longer of any concern. In short, he’s chillin’. If only he was the sort of player who had attributes that would be valuable when his defender was distracted. Things like speed, quickness, leaping ability, and good hands. Oh, wait.

Cutting Edge:

Russell Westbrook has the potential to be one of the best cutters in the NBA. Similarly to his well-documented defensive deficiencies, the only reason he isn’t elite is that he chooses not to do it. The most efficient play in the entire NBA is the cut. It leads to dunks, and to free throws, and to highlight videos.

The Thunder, for example, scored 1.3 points per possession on cuts this season. Their next-best play-type? The notoriously desirable transition play, on which they scored 1.02 points per possession. One quick burst when the defender isn’t looking, Russ, and you get to hang on the rim.