When Kevin Durant departed the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016 to sign with the Golden State Warriors, many fans and pundits questioned why he left Russell Westbrook. The two All-Stars were a dynamic duo and close to winning a championship.
However, it’s become crystal clear over the past few years that Durant made the perfect decision to leave Westbrook, whose latest embarrassing comment is precisely why the two-time Finals MVP didn’t want to play with him anymore.
Russell Westbrook downplays his turnovers too much
Westbrook has been a turnover machine throughout his career. He averages 4.2 a game and is averaging 4.8 this season, his first with the Los Angeles Lakers. The 2016-17 MVP had nine turnovers in the Lakers’ five-point win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Jan. 2, but he downplayed them, which wasn’t a good look at all.
“My game, you know, is fine,” Westbrook said, via ESPN. “My game is not predicated on shots or if I turn the ball over. Like, I miss some shots. That’s part of the game. I’m allowed to miss shots. I can do that. Like any other player, I can do that. I can turn the ball over, too. I can do that. That’s all a part of the game.”
A team’s starting point guard is supposed to value the ball, just like quarterbacks in the NFL. This quote from Westbrook shows how immature he is, and Durant — who plays for the Brooklyn Nets — should be applauded for leaving Russ for Stephen Curry.
Kevin Durant’s best career move was leaving Russell Westbrook
Curry averaged only 2.9 turnovers per game during Durant’s three-year run with the Warriors. The two-time MVP’s shooting ability created more space on the floor for KD to operate, allowing the small forward to average 25.8 points and win two championships.
Durant and Westbrook had plenty of success together. However, they never won a title because the latter failed to make the right decisions in crunch time and never changed his playing style. Westbrook is one of the most erratic players in NBA history. He gets out of control a lot and has never been a good enough shooter for teams to defend him beyond the arc.
In his first season with the Lakers, Westbrook is averaging 19.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 8.3 assists, and 4.8 turnovers. He’s turned the ball over in every game and had 10 against the Thunder on Oct. 27. Lakers superstar LeBron James has supported Westbrook, but even he detailed how the point guard’s turnovers affect the team on both ends.
“What has really hurt us this year is when we turn the ball over a lot, and not able to set our defense, where we’re really good in half court, have teams run it out on us,” LeBron said after the Timberwolves game. “So us being able to take care of the ball in the second half was key in us getting this win tonight. The ball is in his hands a lot, the ball is in my hands a lot, so it starts with the two of us being able to take care of the ball, and we did that.”
The Lakers won’t win the title with the way Westbrook is playing right now. Durant realized the UCLA product couldn’t help him reach the promised land, so he left the Thunder to play with Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala. Leaving Westbrook was the best move the future Hall of Famer has made in the NBA, and it’s an action LeBron may need to copy.
Lakers have to trade Russ
It’s easier said than done, but the Lakers have to trade Westbrook as soon as possible.
His lack of perimeter shooting and propensity to turn the ball over at the drop of a hat have prevented his previous teams from winning it all. This is a player who has played with Durant, James Harden, and Bradley Beal and has only gotten out of the first round of the playoffs once since Durant bolted OKC.
The Lakers have had internal discussions about trading Westbrook. However, the odds of him getting moved are low. Mr. Triple Double has one of the worst contracts in the NBA. He’s making $44.2 million this season and has a player option worth $47.1 million for next season.
Although the Thunder, Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards were able to trade Westbrook, the Lakers will have a hard time moving him since the whole league has now watched him be a bad fit next to Durant and LeBron, two of the best players in NBA history.