At 30-22, the Oklahoma City Thunder have a good record, virtually tied with the Grizzlies (whom they have beaten twice this season ) for the #6 seed, and only 2.5 games out of the 4-5 seeds (Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Clippers). To move up into this superior seeding, the Thunder have a chance to make the game easier on their star point guard, but he needs help.
Victor Oladipo was one of the big off-season acquisitions for the Thunder in exchange for the departed Serge Ibaka. At the moment, Oladipo has a usage rate of only 20.8 percent, which is lower than the Miami Heat’s Dion Waiters. If the Thunder want to take some stress off of Westbrook, they need to use Oladipo more.
One way to get Oladipo more involved would be to have him bring the ball up and run the offense as the point guard. Yes, Westbrook has been having a historic season, but Oladipo has always been better with the ability to create offense off the dribble. If you put Oladipo and Westbrook in a pick and roll, the defense would have to decide between Oladipo driving to basket or staying with Westbrook; that my friends is a tough call.
If you take a look at some of the lineup combinations for the Thunder, there is one lineup that could score the ball and also give Westbrook a break: Oladipo, Anthony Morrow, Enes Kanter (currently injured), Jerami Grant, and Semaj Christon. The lineup is plus 2.4 net rating offensively, they have a positive .125 net three-point percentage, and they have a plus 2.7 net rating when on the court. It could be an option for the Thunder to keep them in the game with the offensive production, all while giving Westbrook a breather.
The good news for the Thunder is that even though they have struggled sometimes in the season, they are still 8 games above .500 and find themselves in the playoff hunt, with a 4-5 seeding not out of reach. As great as Westbrook has been, he can’t do it alone. It is time for the former #2 pick to step up.
Matthew Handel here and I look forward to covering everything about the Thunder! I’m 20 years old and have a passion for basketball that has transpired into a passion to cover it. I can’t wait to bring you the hottest news in the best way here at Welcome to Loud City!