A few tweaks for OKC Thunder star Russell Westbrook to work on this offseason

OKC Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Russell Westbrook finds himself in a quandary following the OKC Thunder’s third straight season that concluded in disappointment. Where does he go from here?

Following another record-breaking regular season, OKC Thunder star Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double for an astounding third season in the row. Brodie not only stepped up defensively, but he also did so while deferring to Paul George who was having a spectacular season in his own right.

This accolade is sadly diminished by how OKC’s season ended.

While Russ improved his defensive effort, and once again led the league in assists. His abysmal shot selection and shooting percentages have plagued his career. Without a dramatic change, his shooting will undoubtedly continue to be exploited by opposing defenses.

The main issues:

The mark of an all-time player is the ability to evolve. Being able to master one attribute well doesn’t guarantee a player success in the NBA. The capacity to grow and expand one’s game is evidence of brilliance and longevity in the league.

Westbrook has demonstrated growth everywhere but his shooting.

If Westbrook wants to take his team deeper in the playoffs, he has to become a serious threat at the free-throw line. His free-throw shooting was a career low 65 percent. These shooting woes are sickening to see, considering he’s a league leader in free-throw attempts.

Russ often rushes his shots, because he’s so accustomed to playing at 100 mph, figuratively of course. If he played with the IQ we’ve seen flashes of, he’d be one of the most dangerous players in the NBA.

Take James Harden, for example, nobody criticizes his high usage rate and strategy to get to the line. This is clearly because he converts his free-throws consistently.

3-point shooting is another area that Russ has not improved in at all. This is his most glaring offensive flaw. Having a 29 percent 3-point percentage is a devastating statistic for anyone, much less a point guard.

He practically has me yelling at the television when he takes the opponent’s 3-point conversions personally, and charges down the court to respond.

The sad part is this tweet was from 2016, and his shooting was much worse this year.

The shooting issues:

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I think the answer to all Russell Westbrook’s questions is changing his shooting mechanics. This offseason Westbrook underwent surgery to repair a ligament on his non-shooting hand. In his rehab, I have no doubt he will work on learning to compensate for his left hand and begin improving his jump shot. The secret is in his base jumping motion and his arc.

Currently, Russell Westbrook’s jump shot is erratic and working with a shooting coach to improve his arc after rehab will help him not rely so much on his legs, this will invariably conserve his energy. By adjusting his arc and having a reliable free-throw routine, he can also improve his free-throw numbers tremendously.

Better use of high I.Q.:

Continuing to average a triple-double won’t harm the team as long as his shot selection improves.  If Westbrook is able to lower his 3-point attempts and make the ones he takes. It can only open up chances for the offense to put up better shots.

Westbrook knows how to play smarter, he just has to choose to do so. A triple-double in no way negatively affects the OKC Thunder’s chances of winning, unless he forces things.

The OKC Thunder have an above 80 percent win percentage when Russ posts a triple-double. This gives credence to him continuing to try to attain these numbers each season. If his shooting is able to improve over this season, Westbrook turns into an MVP candidate once again.


The most important thing Russ can do going into next season is continue to be a leader. Continue to inspire and empower his teammates. To try not to let the outside noise, and criticism affect his willingness to make the right basketball play.

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