Among two-man lineups, Westbrook and Durant rank 6th in the NBA in +/-.....
The Thunder's net rating with both on the floor is +16.9. In offensive rating, KD and Russ rank 5th behind four Warriors duos. In net rating, they rank 9th, behind five Warriors duos and four Cavs duos. In field goal percentage, they're 4th, behind three Warriors duos. Field goals made? 2nd, behind Steph/Draymond.
The biggest barrier to the argument that the Thunder isn't totally screwed with Russ and KD on the bench must be pointed out, and that's the Thunder lineup without them - the one that gets Twitter up in arms. The furor is definitely warranted, as the rotation that has played the most often of Augustin/Kanter/Nick Collison/Anthony Morrow/Dion Waiters produces an atrocious 93.8 offensive rating and 116.1 defensive rating for a truly hideous -22.3 net rating.
With that, we reach the ultimate question that Billy Donovan, his coaching staff, and every frustrated Twitter user must ask, and one that seemingly no one on National TV NBA Twitter ever seems to acknowledge:
Would you rather ensure that ugly basketball (no Russ or KD) never happens by increasing the amount of very good but sometimes not very good basketball (either Russ or KD) while minimizing the amount of stellar basketball (Russ & KD)?
Would you rather maximize the amount of Russ & KD, even if it means for six minutes a night you may have some pretty awful basketball, knowing full well you'll still have a few minutes of one or other?
Look, there's no way to defend that bench lineup. But, as we just saw, there's no guarantee that simply adding either Westbrook or especially, Durant, just magically fixes the problems with that unit. In fact, it's entirely possible that simply restructuring Ibaka's minutes so that he could be on the floor while Durant and Westbrook rest would be just as viable of a solution.
When put that way, it's not as simple as just saying, "One of them needs to be on the floor at all times." To have one on the floor at all times means to sacrifice five to eight minutes from your team when it is at its most productive, and the Thunder is never even close to as effective as when both Durant and Westbrook are on the floor.
Five to eight minutes isn't a small amount in an NBA game. Which is why it's not a problem if Russ or KD's minutes aren't staggered. It's fine for the Thunder to go without either for small stretches, because it's more important to make sure that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook maximize the amount of minutes they spend on the floor together.
"It's something that we'll definitely look into and evolve into," Donovan said of staggering earlier this month. "I'm aware of those (bad) numbers. But at the same point, too, getting some consistency off our bench is important in terms of the long run."