The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant


Over the summer of 2016, the acclaimed basketball star Kevin Durant decided to bring his talents to Golden State Warriors. This decision led to thousands of Oklahoma City Thunder fans, the team where Durant played before, to lose complete faith in their team. Prior to his trade, Oklahoma City Thunder (OKC) were led by 2 of the top 5 players in the NBA, Durant and Russell Westbrook.

This exciting and lethal duo had led the Thunder to an NBA finals appearance in 2012 where they were swiftly routed by the Miami heat, led by Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. While this was a tough blow to the team, it would not deteriorate their talent and effort.

The next season, 2013-14, they would finish with a 59-23 record, landing the second seed in the Western Conference. This season ended in another disappointment as the team would lose in the Western Conference Finals to the San Antonio Spurs, who would eventually beat the Miami Heat in the NBA finals.

Yet, with all this losing in crucial times, the Thunder never gave up, excluding a frustrating 2014-15 season where they did not make the playoffs. This was all in the past as the next year they would make the playoffs and get to the Western Conference Finals against a Golden State Warriors team which had just accomplished a feat no other team had and obtained a historic 73-9 regular season record.

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Four games into the series, the Thunder led the 7 game series 3-1. This lead was a huge shock as the Warriors had had relatively good playoff success this year, only having lost 2 post-season games prior to this. At this point, everything was pointing towards a OKC Thunder-Cleveland Cavaliers NBA finals series, as the Warriors would have to play game 5 after having lost 3 games to a weaker team. Yet, the Thunder managed to do what they had done so many times before, Lose in crucial moments. The Warriors would go on to win 3 straight giving them entry into the NBA finals.

While this was disappointing to Thunder fans, as it would be to any fans, not all hope was lost, as it had never been during their prior losses. This was all for nothing because of Kevin Durant’s decision to join the Golden State Warriors in early July of 2016.

OKC’s superstar and loyal player since the start, had just left their team for their bitter rivals.

This loss fueled a now lone superstar, Russell Westbrook, to lead the team. At the beginning of the 2016-17 NBA season he averaged a triple double, and hoped to do so for the rest of the season. If he accomplished this incredibly tough task, he would match Oscar Robertson who did so in the 1961-62 season and is the only player to ever do so.

A triple double consists of 10+ points, 10+ assists and 10+ rebound in one game, and for Westbrook to potentially average this would put him historically among some of the best players in NBA history.

The important aspect of Russ’ triple doubles is that they help his team win without a superstar but also he is doing better than he ever has, as before he had to share the ball with Kevin Durant, making his overall stats lower. They would both share the ball somewhat equally and now that Russell is in charge, he is able to play more and is a likely candidate for NBA most valuable player.

Another way Kevin Durant leaving OKC benefited Russell Westbrook, and occasionally the whole team, was chemistry. Westbrook, compared to Durant, has been playing with some of the players on the Thunder for many years, including KD before the trade. Yet, Kevin now has to adjust to a new team and system which can be difficult. Russell is still in the same place and can now thrive off of his recognizable teammates.

Kevin Durant’s trade was not the only one that affected the Thunder. A player named Serge Ibaka left after free agency and he was a major part of the team which helped OKC get to the Western Conference Finals in 2015-16. And now with him gone, the Thunder have brought in new players, some of which are helpful, while others come nowhere near filling the void left from Kevin Durant’s departure.

By: Alexandre Grossman


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