The entire basketball world came to a halt when Kevin Durant announced his departure from OKC to the Golden State. In many homes around the country, basketball fans cheered at the thought of Steph and KD on the court together, as they no doubt dreamed of the rainstorms of threes to be splashed down.
The entire state of California itself practically exploded with excitement that day. Even now, though, not everybody is happy at the thought of this so called “super-team”. In fact, there is a long list of people who would beg KD to stay. There is probably an even longer list of those who are completely ready to rack up the excuses on why the the Thunder will suck.
Russell Westbrook, unsurprisingly, is not on either of these lists. Russell does not want to beg for KD’s help, and he does not want the excuses so many folks are trying to give him. Instead, Westbrook only wants to WIN. Scoring titles, MVPs, and highlights really never mattered to the superstar anyway. Whether or not Kevin Durant is there makes no difference to him.
This is his time to shine. This is his time to show us what he can do, and his time to bring the rest of the NBA to its knees.
This is The Year of Westbrook, and you should be very excited to see it.
Even though this year will no doubt be something magical, it won't be the first time we’ll be seeing crazy from Westbrook. Like that time in 2013, when Russ hit a crazy, turnaround, game-winning three at the buzzer versus Golden State. And all those nights of crazy highlight reel dunks Russ does on a game to game basis.
No matter what Westbrook moments you like to chew on (and trust me, there are many), one thing is for sure: There will be plenty more, especially this season. The five-time NBA All-Star no longer has to worry about how many touches he gives (or doesn’t give) KD. He is free to be himself and show the world what he can do. And he will do just that.
Surely, there will be times when he does a little TOO much, but after so many years of living in the “shadow” of Kevin Durant, I believe that he is ready to become a player none of us have seen before.
The real question here is: can they win? It can't be THAT great a year for Westbrook if his team doesn’t even make the playoffs, right?
Well, we’ve gotten a little glimpse of what this team may be like already, about two seasons ago. The 2014-2015 season, Kevin Durant only started 27 games due to foot injuries. Without him, the Oklahoma City Thunder only won 45 games, barely missing the playoffs. And while most of the roster now remains the same as that year, there are some big differences.
For one, the players have developed and enhanced their skills, with guys like Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams primed for breakout seasons with more experience under their belt and a lot more touches in the paint for Adams and drives for Oladipo.
And let's not forget the thing that can REALLY drive a team: anger. This team is angry. It is that anger that will propel them through the season and (hopefully) bring success along the way. With that success, perhaps they can create a story for themselves nobody ever thought possible. And while there will undoubtedly be many other NBA story lines for the 2016-2017 season, none will be bigger than Russell Westbrook and this Oklahoma City Thunder team in this new life after KD.
While I cannot predict the future (no matter how much I’d like to), something tells me they’ll be just fine. This year will be a big test to how much this superstar and his team can take.
This year will prove a bigger challenge than anything faced before. But most of all, this year is his year to show us what he's got. All we have to do is buckle up and enjoy the ride.