I have repeatedly taken heat from my fellow basketball fans for expressing my displeasure with the Oklahoma City Thunder. I find them boring, and this bothers people.
This bothers people because they wonder how I can describe a team with two players at the top of their positions (small forward Kevin Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook) as boring.
Well, boring is not an attempt to knock on their talent. I recognize that they posses two of the best players in the NBA and have surrounded them with other good players like the solid (and spectacularly bearded) James Harden, the tough play of Kendrick Perkins and the heir apparent to Dikembe Mutumbo’s throne as a shot-blocking African menance (complete with finger-wag) in Serge Ibaka.
These things all make for a great team, and I appreciate the Thunder in their talent and skill, but from an aesthetic point they’re boring.
And this is the fault of their two stars, Durant and Westbrook.
Durant, for all his talent, and scoring prowess isn’t so otherworldly special in any one aspect of the game to mesmerize on a nightly basis. He doesn’t have LeBron’s freakish strength, Kobe’s single minded gunner mentality, or Derick Rose’s insane drives to the rim.
He is above that. He is better than that. He is great at everything, so nothing stands out. There’s the saying that without evil, there would be no good. Well, that’s a rather pompous comparison to make, so I’d rather say Durant is like and Oreo that’s just creme.
Yeah it’s the best part, but it needs the cookie.
Durant isn’t flawed, so he isn’t interesting.
Ironically, Russell Westbrook’s flaws are what ruin the rest of the Thunder. Throughout the playoffs he’s seemed to suffer from a severe cause of ball-hoggedness.
Too many times a Thunder possession begins and ends without the ball every leaving Westbrook’s possession until he chucks up a shot. Watching him walk up the court, dribble and then launch a jumper is not entertaining.
And this isn’t the same problem that Kobe has, where he gets pissed off at his teammates because he’s frustrated with being so much better than them. And this isn’t Derick Rose dominating possession of the ball because he is clearly the best scoring option on the defensively minded Chicago Bulls.
No, this is the point guard who is supposed to be running the offense for the NBA’s leading scorer and one its best players in Kevin Durant.
Westbrook seems to be under the mistaken impression that the Thunder are his team, when in fact they are, or should be, Durant’s.
In the Thunder’s triple overtime game against the Grizzlies all of these points came to a head.
Despite truly having no allegiance to ether team, I never felt like I wanted the Thunder to win. The Grizzlies were getting by on manic plays, lucky one-handed threes by players named Greivis and another great game from (until this year) chronic underachiever Zach Randolph.
The Thunder spent most of the game doing what they do until Russell Westbrook’s chronic brain farts led to him chucking up ill advised shots and seemingly freezing out Durant on offense. (Durant went 10 minutes without taking the shot in the second half)
The Thunder ultimately outlasted Memphis by giving the ball Durant, who in his boring, methodical way, nailed his shots and led them to victory.
All in all, I think Durant might looking to co-opt Tim Duncan’s nickname of Mr. Fundamentals, because everything I said about Durant can equally be applied to Duncan. Which shouldn’t bother Durant since Duncan is a four time champion and sure fire hall-of-famer.
Westbrook, on the other hand, might be due in for a reevaluation of his game is the Grizzlies upset the Thunder. It’s too early in his career to nail him down as pure gunner in the mold of Gilbert Arenas, but its not too early for those thoughts to come creeping in.