OKC Thunder Russell Westbrook No. 7 on Sports Illustrated Top 100 list

Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation)
Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation) /

OKC Thunder franchise cornerstone and 2016 -17 MVP Russell Westbrook lands in the top ten at number seven on the Sports Illustrated Top 100  player list.

Earlier this season Vegas odds for the 2018-19 MVP placed OKC Thunder point man Russell Westbrook at seventh. So, when Sports Illustrated rolled out their final segment of top ten stars in the 2019 Top 100 NBA Players list his placement at seventh wasn’t much of a surprise.

In fairness to writers Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney (who are excellent) not being able to win a playoff round since Kevin Durant‘s exit is likely keeping him below the elite top five. A position where the top three of LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry hold fast for a second consecutive season. Minor shifts based on injury (Kawhi Leonard falls from fourth to 12th) or rising stars ( Joel Embiid ascends to ninth) shake up the top ten with Westbrook dropping one spot from his 6th place showing last season on the 2018 top ten.

2018 Top 10 NBA Players:

  1. LeBron James
  2. Kevin Durant
  3. Stephen Curry
  4. Kawhi Leonard
  5. James Harden
  6. Russell Westbrook
  7. Chris Paul
  8. Anthony Davis
  9. Giannis Antetokounmpo
  10. Draymond Green

More from Thunderous Intentions

2019 Top 10 NBA Players:

  1. LeBron James
  2. Kevin Durant
  3. Stephen Curry
  4. James Harden
  5. Anthony Davis
  6. Giannis Antetokounmpo
  7. Russell Westbrook
  8. Chris Paul
  9. Joel Embiid
  10. Jimmy Butler

While we might assume this will eat at Westbrook (and Paul George for that matter – just missing out on the top 10), it’s not ultimately what the Brodie cares about. Other than his son Noah, wife Nina, family, friends and teammates Russell Westbrook has a simple goal. To win! Examples of his growing leadership are abundant. Just in the few seasons I’ve been waxing at T.I. there are signs of Westbrook pushing himself in foreign directions  in terms of leadership.

Many outside OKC forget last season began with Westbrook attempting to create equal shots and distribution for his new OK3 counterparts. The experiment went sideways with the loss of Roberson, a worn down Steven Adams and Carmelo Anthony (with all due respect) playing in the worst possible system to allow himself or others to succeed around him.

Once more Rob Mahoney offered the profile for Westbrook as he did for each of the four Thunder players on the list. Here is an excerpt from that larger article:

"Say what you will about Westbrook, but the man shows up. When his team’s season is on the brink, Westbrook will take every damn shot necessary to keep things afloat. While other players awkwardly feel out the dynamic of a playoff series, Westbrook charges in, forcing everyone on the court to respond to him. It’s almost incomprehensible that someone who drives as hard as Westbrook could be as healthy as he’s been prior to undergoing knee surgery this week. Durability is a skill in itself, and Westbrook—even as his legend grows—doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his availability in the wake of hard fouls, harder falls, and freaking dents in the side of his face.— RM"

Westbrook’s focus is simple – WIN

Although Westbrook will get a late start to this season due to the arthroscopic procedure here’s hoping the brain trust let’s him take as much time to heal as possible.

The early schedule is favorable and there are kinks to work out anyway. Last season in his return from the PRP injection it took time for him to round into form, but it may have had more to do with trying to make all the new pieces work and fit.

Not necessarily a patient guy, Westbrook kept trying to force a round peg into a square hole. As arguably the most polarizing NBA player on the planet those criticisms aren’t likely to ever disappear, and Russ knows that.

But, with the most depth this squad has had since Durant, Harden and Serge Ibaka were all on the Chesapeake court – there is optimism creeping into our consciousness.

Let the naysayers tell you Russ can’t play off the ball, or that he can’t figure out a way to make those on the floor better. After all there’s nothing more that Russ enjoys besides winning than proving those people wrong.

Next. Ranking top 50 dunks in Thunder franchise history. dark

To see the entire excepts of the above players and of all listed players I encourage you to check out the full listing