Come on, people. Don’t hate on the Brodie now. As Russell Westbrook received post-game questions about shot selection after his team’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar frustratedly noted that “nobody said nothing” about a lack of passing when his team recently won eight consecutive games.
Here’s Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman:
Westbrook scored 29 points on 10-of-27 shooting and doled-out eight assists in Oklahoma City’s 101-99 loss to New Orleans. What prompted more scrutiny about his decision-making was his performance down the stretch – Russ misfired on all six of his shot attempts in the game’s last three minutes, including a well-contested three-point try at the buzzer. He’s now 30-of-79 over his last three games, two of which were played without Kevin Durant.
Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans confirmed the assumption of everyone watching the game: He and his teammates knew who was getting the ball for Oklahoma City with the game on the line. They knew Westbrook wasn’t giving it up, either.
Via Royce Young of ESPN:
Said Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans of the final play: “We knew he wasn’t going to give the ball up. We knew he was going to go. We knew he was going to get the ball and they were going to go to him every time.”
Westbrook’s assessment is right to an extent. Before the past three games, he’d established a new personal bench mark for efficiency even while upping his usage in the season’s early going. Westbrook was and still is an MVP candidate, and his ultra-aggressive mentality remains key to that development.
There’s every reason to believe, basically, that Russ will soon rebound from his current shooting slump. Scorers have to stay in attack mode at all times, especially when their team is missing an irreplaceable cog like Durant.
But there’s a balancing act between shooting and playmaking that Westbrook sometimes struggles to find. If he doesn’t have it going, making plays to set up teammates would certainly help the Thunder manage better offense as he gets his groove. That’s the give and take with Russ, though – what makes him ineffective on occasion makes him dominant on the regular.
And once Durant returns and Oklahoma City gets back to its winning ways, these questions will surely subside. And Westbrook’s shot will inevitably come around, too.
What do you think?
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