The Oklahoma City Thunder are down 3-2 in their first round series with the Memphis Grizzlies, with a must-win in the Grindhouse coming up on Thursday. You can blame this on a lot of things like:
- The Grizzlies are better than we gave them credit for
- Tony Allen is a maniac
- Joey Crawford is highly questionable
- Serge Ibaka was a fraction of a second slow
- James Harden plays for Houston
- Arron Afflalo plays for Orlando
And those are all talking points in the situation that OKC faces. But all of this really comes down to the fact that Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Scott Brooks cannot work together. Their general incompetence working together may send them home much sooner than anyone expected (besides maybe Tony Allen). The frustrating thing here is that people like me and Skip Bayless have been saying for years that Russell Westbrook, although he is a tremendous basketball player, is not the right point guard for Kevin Durant. I feel like that’s been obvious for a long time, but it’s a narrative that has drifted in and out of the discussion, always with plenty of Westbrook supporters arguing against what seems like common sense. Westbrook and Durant, although both tremendous players, do not work well together on the basketball court.
And that’s strange, really, that two guys who like each other can’t learn to play together after so long. This is where Scott Brooks comes in. Brooks, like Westbrook, has continued to produce far too little for how much praise he receives. I have a hard time believing that another coach couldn’t find a way to get OKC’s stars to align. His offense is a nonsensical mess that does not put Durant in the best position to score and he allows Westbrook to take more shots than Durant time and again. I was surprised to hear Bomani Jones say earlier this season that Brooks was the problem, because I had never heard anything but praise for Brooks. Now I agree, and if the Thunder want to ever win a championship it might be Brooks that has to go.
Some will chalk this up as a moot point if the Thunder come back to win the series. That would be a mistake, and we can’t let this thing go. OKC has a real problem, and if this season doesn’t have a satisfactory conclusion, people need to seriously re-evaluate their opinions on Durant, Westbrook, and Brooks.
Of course, if GM Sam Presti had just done as I suggested, we probably wouldn’t have this problem, would we?