Russell Westbrook, point guard, Oklahoma City Thunder
In the five first-round games Westbrook played, he averaged a triple-double and was the only real source of offense for the Oklahoma City Thunder. In light of that, it feels odd to say he performed poorly, but the facts are the facts.
Westbrook didn’t carry the Thunder’s offense, he hijacked it. He shot 38.8 percent from the field and 26.5 percent from three on nearly 10 three-pointers and over 30 shots per game.
Westbrook had a 47-percent usage rate in the first round, an all-time record in the postseason. The next-highest was Michael Jordan in 1985-86, who had a 39.2 percent usage rate as the Chicago Bulls were swept in three games at the hands of the Boston Celtics. But Westbrook’s performance didn’t compare to Jordan’s famous 63 points in Chicago’s double-overtime loss in Game 2 of that series. Jordan shot over 50 percent from the field in that game and the series.
Westbrook didn’t break 40.
Getting his teammates involved would have made a difference. The Thunder didn’t do enough to exploit James Harden on defense, letting him hide on Andre Roberson in the corner with minimal resistance. When Roberson did make a backdoor cut or get involved in the play, Harden got caught sleeping multiple times.
Victor Oladipo struggled badly, in part because Westbrook did little in terms of helping him. The Thunder rarely ran plays for Oladipo, and Westbrook never did enough to get him going. Part of being a superstar (especially in the postseason) is making your teammates better.
Westbrook simply didn’t do that.
Moreover, Westbrook also wilted in crunch-time, perhaps tired from the rest of the game. In 13 minutes of clutch situations, as defined by NBA.com, Westbrook was 4-of-14 from the field with just one assist. His usage rate rocketed up to 65.7 percent and his net rating was minus-37.8.
The counting numbers were there, but Westbrook’s inefficiency was a large part of why the Thunder crashed out in five games.