My time spent analyzing the Thunder this season boils down to about 20 minutes of interspersed watching throughout the last 5 games, mostly the 4th quarter. During these minutes I found myself rooting particularly hard for Russel Westbrook to put his team on his back and pull out the W. It brought me back to 2001 when it was AI against the world. Being a super star on a team of role players has its perks, but also some major flaws which were apparent in this playoff series against the Rockets. Here’s what I witnessed:

  • Goddamnit. Why’d they have to intentionally foul me. This is humiliating.

    Russ gets paid 26 million a year and is worth every penny. He makes the best of a bad situation.

  • Oladipo averaged 15.9 PPG in the regular season and only 10.8 in the playoffs. This is noticeable when the opposing team knows your team is limited on offense and strategically makes the weaker offensively players beat them which doesn’t occur as pronounced in the regular season.
  • Enes Kanter averaged 9 minutes and 4.8PPG in the post-season vs 21 and 14 in the regular season. He is a huge defensive liability with his lead feet and was useless in the this key stretch of the season.
  • Andre Roberson who was a 42% FT shooter from the line this year went 3-21 in the post season. I felt bad for the man as he shouldn’t be on the floor in the 4th quarter. He’s another Hack a Shaq or DeAndre Jordan.
  • Russ averaged a triple double in the playoffs with a ridiculous line of 37.4/11.6/10.8/ 2.4 steals. This is other worldly.

I tend to put a decent amount of blame on Billy Donovon as he didn’t grasp that his team couldn’t play without Russ on the floor. Last nights game had Russ with a +12 when playing. They also finished the 3rd quarter up 5, let Russ rest, and when he came back in they were down 5 points in the 4th. No doubt Russ was tired in the 4th, and petered out like he’d done in past games, but if I was the coach I’d play the guy 48 minutes. His team stunk that bad without him.

No one thought that the Thunder were going to win this year and they got beat by a superior team. Harden is stealth-like in his ability to score buckets and shoots foul shots better than almost anyone in the league. Lou Williams added timely scoring. Beverly played strong D on Russ. Nene gave some added boost inside. The Rockets were simply a more balanced team and Harden’s numbers are superstar enough to carry this team past the Thunder. The Rockets don’t have enough experience to beat the Spurs or fire power to hold off the Warriors, but they no doubt will fight.

This team may have done some damage.

All of that being said, my vote for MVP has to be Russell Westbrook. MVP stands for Most Valuable Player. If you put any other playing in the NBA on the Thunder to replace Westbrook would that team have won 47 games? My answer is no. Kawhi Leonard is too fundamental to be a ball hog. Steph can’t do it all and is more of a pure shooter. Harden would be the closest pick but his lack of defense has been noted (I have no clue if Russ plays D). If you make the argument that the MVP should help his team win the title, which is valid towards winning the championship being paramount, Kawhi Leonard would be my pick. But if you are looking for a player that if removed would be worse than the Sixers, it would be Russell Westbrook.