Russell Westbrook’s time has been mostly good, but there continue to be questions on whether he and Kevin Durant can co-exist. The Oklahoma City Thunder apparently don’t care about those whispers. They’ve continued to build their team like the San Antonio Spurs did once upon a time by extending Russell Westbrook for the next five years.
Adrian Wojnarowski with Yahoo! Sports reported early Thursday afternoon that Westbrook had signed a five year, $80 million extension with Oklahoma City. The Thunder point guard is currently averaging 20 points, five assists and five rebounds a game. Those are great numbers across the board for any player not named LeBron James, but the assist totals are actually down from last two seasons where he averaged eight assists a game. History shows there’s a decent chance those assist totals go up.
Aside from trading Westbrook, this was the only option for OKC and most likely the right one. At 23 years old, Westbrook has already been the second best player on a Western Conference finalist. The Thunder has the league’s second best record, so why shake things up. Getting this extension done early ends any uncertainty about his future (for the next few years anyways) and I’m willing to bet will lead to better play.
What the GM Sam Presti has done in Oklahoma City is very impressive. He’s definitely followed the Spurs mold of building your team through the draft (though OKC had much higher picks than San Antonio) and hitting on international talent (see: Ibaka, Serge). I still don’t think Scott Brooks is the coach that gets them to the promised land, but if Durant, Westbrook and the growth of James Harden (his game, not his beard) have made the Thunder the scariest team in the Western Conference.