The Oklahoma City Thunder were one game away from reaching the 2011 NBA Finals. A great accomplishment for a team that most thought was too young to compete for a championship. However with success comes scrutiny and the Thunder now find themselves surrounded by a mask of uncertianty and speculation. The biggest question involves a player that I think is one of the 10 greatest players in the game today.
The queston is not his talent or athleticism but his ability to play the point guard position. The NBA Playoffs only added fuel to a rising fire surrounding Russell Westbrook's future as an elite point guard in the NBA. The Thunder need to release and unleash the true basketball player that lives inside of Russell Westbrook or trade him to a team that will.
Having Westbrook play shooting guard will not only give him freedom to utilize his talents but strengthen his defence. Westbrook could concentrate on shutting down the opposition's elite players. He has the skills to become a dominating defensive player that can guard multiple postions. Once Westbrook can feel the freedom on offense his defence can make him one of the best shooting guards in the NBA or the most dominating point guard in the league. Unleash the true basketball player that lives inside of Russell Westbrook so the basketball world can see how great he can become.
Trading Westbrook for a guard like Steve Nash could take the Thunder to the next level this year. Harden could come into the starting lineup and relieve some of the 20ppg Westbrook produces nightly. Without a big offensive pressence in the paint the thunder need a player to get into the lane and create easy shots for others. The thunder tend to run isolation plays and rarely use the pick and roll with effectiveness. It could be a good match for both teams as Westbrook would have the freedom to dominate games and lead his own team into the future.
Russell Westbrook is not a natural point guard and never played the position growing up in California. The Thunder need Russell Westbrook to play at shooting guard and a point guard with vision to distrubute the ball. A player that can take over games with his decisions and create his own shot as the 3rd option. Eric Maynor would be a good candidate with the current lineup but there are other options. Westbrook could still play the point in certain situations, like when Durant is on the bench.
Great players can play multiple positions on the court but every player has a different skill set to thrive at in one position. Westbrook's talents as a basketball player needs to be harnessed in a way that will utilize his insticts and explosivness. Every team should play to the strengths of their players. Russell Westbrook is an explosive and elite basketball player that is trapped in his team's vision of the perfect point guard.
Westbrook will succeed at point guard once he figures out how to control games with his decisions. In the playoffs Westbrook's decision making in the 4th quarter was a good example of why the shooting guard is his natural position on the court. He is not sure what decision to make when the game is hanging in the balance. Should he try to take the game over or differ to the greatest scorer in the game?
Westbrook has proven himself as a capable point guard in this league with the potential to become an unstoppable and uncontrollable force. His intensity and athleticism at the point guard position is a tough cover for any player. I'm not saying that Westbrook will never become a predominant point guard that can predict his own future, that is not my argument. If given the time he will become a true point because he is a great athlete that can dominate games. Given the time Lebron James would become a dominate and triumphant point guard!
Not an easy decision for a player with instincts like Westbrook. Russell has to assess his situations better when he gets into the lane and makes his offensive move. He needs to keep the defense guessing and never become a predictable offensive player. If the thunder decide he is part of their future they need a true point guard to lead this young and talented team. A player that can sense when Russell Westbrook's skill and strength should take over the game.
The problem is that the Thunder have the greatest scorer in the game today with a scoring first point guard. If Kevin Durant was playing in Chicago I would make the same argument. The Thunder need to slide Westbrook to the 2 spot or trade him to a team where he could succeed as the number 1 option at the point.