Would you rather have Russ or Harden? OKC chose right
So here's the thing about Russell Westbrook and James Harden. They're both phenomenal talents. They're both perennial MVP candidates. They both elevate the teams they're on to levels they could never imagine without each, respectively.
They're also both selfish ball-hogs who can absolutely wreck their teams chances to win basketball games. Westbrook has evolved. He's evolved from the most selfish player in the NBA to one of the most exciting. He's gone from taking horrible shots about 75% of the time, to a player who only takes horrible shots about 25% of the time.
Harden is almost impossible to watch. He bulls his way to the bucket looking more for free throws than field goals. My hairstylist calls him 'Captain Hook' thanks to his propensity to use his elbows to either find open space or draw a foul.
Harden averaged 10.1 free throw attempts per game over the course of the 82 game season. Westbrook averaged 7.1, according to Pro-Basketball-Reference. It may not seem like that much of a disparity, but three more free throws per game is a lot. It's the opportunity for 246 more points on the season. It goes to show Russ is looking for buckets, Harden looks for breathers.
It's not a knock on Harden. The way he plays is effective. He's probably going to win the MVP this year, partly, because of his style of play. But he's brutal to watch. If he'd stayed on the Thunder they would have been a worse basketball team because of it. He and Russ couldn't have coexisted with only one basketball.
Russ has decided he was going to contribute to the team and not just his stat line. But, when the game is on the line, he still has a tendency to take TERRIBLE shots. The Thunder have no chance to win if he doesn't trust his teammates.
Paul George is a great playoff player. Carmelo has played well in playoff situations, for the most part. There are other guys on this Thunder team that can get them there. At least through this round.
Thunder defense is something for another blog. Maybe after Game Three.
Until next time...