Can Billy Donovan prove he deserves a clean slate with the OKC Thunder?

Head coach Billy Donovan of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Head coach Billy Donovan of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
OKC Thunder: Billy Donovan (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /

Well, we know how that story ends.

Was the 2015-16 season a failure? No, but it was a disappointment. Could Billy Donovan have done things differently down the stretch of the 2016 Western Conference Finals? Yes, but it was his first time coaching in the NBA and what coach does not have a few hiccups in their rookie year?

After Kevin Durant skipped town, the talent level was down to…well, Russell Westbrook. Which is why Kevin Durant tweeted from his main account, which was supposed to be from his burner account, that Russ can’t win with them cats.

Well, Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double, won the Most Valuable Player Award, and the team made the playoffs lasting five games into their first-round matchup with the Houston Rockets.

Westbrook’s MVP season should not count against Billy Donovan, because there was nothing he could do besides roll the ball out and let Russell Westbrook try his hardest. That, however, would be the turning point in my estimation.

When you give the player that much power, it is hard to reel it back in. It is like letting your dog sleep on the couch all it’s life until their tenth birthday then trying to teach the dog not to lay all over your couch.

That showed in the following two seasons. From top to bottom, Russell Westbrook was treated like the messiah, and for good reason. But after winning the MVP and adding a pair of All-Stars the next summer it was going to be hard for anyone to get through to Westbrook who was carrying an entire city on his broad shoulders.

As Sam Presti added more talent to the team in Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, those moves also added more hard to handle stars for a still young NBA head coach. Donovan never had control of the team after Westbrook’s MVP season, and it was clear in the handling of Carmelo Anthony’s role. I mean, do you remember media days? An answer that many people believe is the reason Melo still does not have an NBA gig right now.

It took Donovan being down 25 points in an elimination game to finally take control and bench Carmelo Anthony and never look back. He knows what he is doing, he is just hesitant to do it, or so it seems.

There is a reason that the bench units for the OKC Thunder in Donovan’s time always flow better offensively.

The OKC Thunder have had this issue before. While the star players love Billy Donovan, as they loved Scott Brooks on personal levels, they also never seemed to respect either coaches authority.

So that is how we got to where we are now. A lack of respect, and control of the locker room.