Friday, May 17, 2013

0 Durant isn't Durant without Russell Westbrook

By Shaee Flatt

Just after the Heat closed out the Bulls in game five, the Memphis Grizzlies did the same to Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

The Grizzlies outplayed the Thunder for five straight games, and Kevin Durant didn’t look like the second best player in the NBA for any of the last four. 

Many consider Durant the most “clutch” player in the NBA but for four straight games, Durant came up empty in the final minutes of four straight losses. He missed shot after shot, he turned the ball over time after time, and he looked lost without his running mate Russell Westbrook. He didn’t look “clutch” at all, rather he looked like a good player, that couldn’t get it done at the end of games. 

This is the same criticism that LeBron James faced when he was in Cleveland, playing with even less talent by far that Durant is playing with now. While now, playing with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, LeBron looks just as clutch as anyone in the league. It's not because he has gotten any better, it is just because there are other players on the court that the defense has to worry about. 

Durant never faced late game double teams because of Westbrook but now, without Westbrook, Durant can’t seem to do anything right in the final minutes of games. 

There is a simple conclusion. You can’t do it alone. The only difference between what LeBron faced in Cleveland, and Durant in Oklahoma City without Westbrook is that the media and fans aren’t blasting Durant the same way that they did with LeBron when he was in Cleveland. Durant, unlike LeBron, didn’t have the expectation of winning the series by himself, and has thus received a pass for losing the series to the Grizzlies in five games, as he should.  

Simply put, at the end of games, Kevin Durant isn’t Kevin Durant without Russell Westbrook. LeBron James isn’t LeBron James at the end of games without Dwyane Wade, just as Michael Jordan wouldn’t have been Michael Jordan at the end of games without Scottie Pippen. 

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