Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden?

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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#21 » by Clyde Frazier » Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:28 pm

They shouldn't have traded harden. Durant left on his own tho. That wasn't OKC's choice to make.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#22 » by Warriors Analyst » Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:31 pm

birdlives_ma wrote:I think Billy Donovan doesn't get enough flak for this. His offense with KD and Russ was basically "one of you go get a bucket, idk." Russ was a force of nature and KD's maybe the best pure scorer ever, so it got them by. But they were nowhere near where they could have been, especially after the Harden trade, and I don't really put that on either player.


Seeing how the Thunder offense has changed this year without Russ, it should be considered that Donovan couldn’t institute a system of his liking because of Westbrook’s presence. Schroeder was quoted as saying that a big difference in OKC this season was that the team is keeping itself accountable. Seems pretty clear to me what the implication is there. Russ did what Russ wanted; look no further than the series against Utah in 2018 where Rubio had a hot shooting night and the very next game Russ ignored the sensible game plan of sagging off Rubio and instead face guarded him to prove a dumb point about not getting punked.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#23 » by bondom34 » Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:37 pm

Warriors Analyst wrote:
birdlives_ma wrote:I think Billy Donovan doesn't get enough flak for this. His offense with KD and Russ was basically "one of you go get a bucket, idk." Russ was a force of nature and KD's maybe the best pure scorer ever, so it got them by. But they were nowhere near where they could have been, especially after the Harden trade, and I don't really put that on either player.


Seeing how the Thunder offense has changed this year without Russ, it should be considered that Donovan couldn’t institute a system of his liking because of Westbrook’s presence. Schroeder was quoted as saying that a big difference in OKC this season was that the team is keeping itself accountable. Seems pretty clear to me what the implication is there. Russ did what Russ wanted; look no further than the series against Utah in 2018 where Rubio had a hot shooting night and the very next game Russ ignored the sensible game plan of sagging off Rubio and instead face guarded him to prove a dumb point about not getting punked.

Durant had and still has the same tendencies to do what he wanted on offense, including in GSW. The offense was the same the year Westbrook missed significant time under Brooks. The team catered to Durant for most of a decade.


To answer the OP, no.

Edit: Harden trade was a big mistake, but no to the question. Injuries hurt them and Durant wanted easy titles, Westbrook takes the blame from his normal detractors. Oddly enough the same happened their entire time together.
FoundANewSlant wrote:it's really fundamental defensive flaws exhibited here by Westbrook, PG, and Adams that put Melo into vulnerable positions here yet you can't recognize or explain it.

So Paul George is the reason Carmelo Anthony struggled on defense all these years...
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#24 » by HeartBreakKid » Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:28 pm

I believe the Thunder thought Harden might leave anyway which is why they kept Ibaka over him (and because they already had two perimeter guys). They should have just kept Harden for a year because they nearly won a title in 2012, so it made little sense to break up the core a year prematurely (and that's worst case scenario).

For what ever reason, the Thunder were being really cheap, I know they're a small market but OKC was becoming very popular at this time so it easily would have been worth and go into luxury tax (which I think happened to them eventually?).

Durant left arguably the second best team in the league, so it's not correct to say that the Thunder didn't do a lot to keep Kevin Durant.


Durant simply just wanted to get easy rings.


Biggest mystery to me is why they liked Billy Donovan so much. I thought it was a mistake before he even coached a game in the NBA and he's still there.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#25 » by Johnny Bball » Sun Jun 28, 2020 8:46 pm

76ciology wrote:We all know the story.

Westbrook, KD and Harden once played for the Thunders at the same time.

One by one they left the team. First Harden was traded, then KD walk then RW was traded.

Did OKC made the wrong bet in RW?

Or was everything just a stroke of bad luck with the players pretty much dictating the fate of the franchise?


I don't think that "we all" do know the story. Apparently.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#26 » by Doctor MJ » Sun Jun 28, 2020 9:33 pm

76ciology wrote:We all know the story.

Westbrook, KD and Harden once played for the Thunders at the same time.

One by one they left the team. First Harden was traded, then KD walk then RW was traded.

Did OKC made the wrong bet in RW?

Or was everything just a stroke of bad luck with the players pretty much dictating the fate of the franchise?


I've put a lot into this, so I'll give my take. The big thing to understand here is that this is a story of subtle mistakes and bad luck derailing a smart organization. We have to look at the mistakes, but also be aware that this wasn't a story of incompetence.

The story begins in '07-08 where the soon-to-be-renamed SuperSonics go with what I call the "LeBron approach" to superstar training. Basically: We want you to be the superstar on this team, so we're not going to train you for a lesser role and wait until you "deserve" more primacy. We're going to put you in the role we're envisioning you and let you figure things out (with some pointers along the way surely).

That wasn't remotely weird. Frankly it's pretty normal, and for the most part worked out well with Durant. It wasn't until his 3rd year where he turned the corner and actually played that role like a capable star, but he did figure it out, and he figured it out before the team even had to think about the next contract. Win.

What was less usual was the fact that they doubled down on this approach the next year with Russell Westbrook. They said "You two are our stars, figure out how to play together." This was odd for 2 main reasons: 1) Westbrook was not remotely seen as a prospect on Durant's level, and so it was tying the future of your alpha prospect with another guy seen as much less of a sure thing, 2) they had Westbrook play a role not remotely similar to the one he played at UCLA - UCLA Russ was a "take nothing off the table guy" who helped in all sorts of little ways, wasn't an ultra-ball dominant point, and was known specifically for his defense, but OKC Russ would become known for an ultra-ball dominant style.

Leaving aside momentarily that Westbrook proved to be an NBA superstar level guy, this was a very risky proposition that chanced the team getting stuck as a "team without a system" with all sorts of sub-optimalities keeping them from hitting their ceiling. If you're reading that and saying "which is exactly what happened", I agree, but I'll also acknowledge that it turned out very well nonetheless, and I don't know if it would make sense to see as a mistake if not for Harden.

Harden came in as a 3rd banana guy, and came willingly - iirc he wrote a letter to Presti explaining how he saw himself fitting in with Durant and Westbrook. And of course, he played this role pretty much to perfection once he got his groove (especially after the trading of Jeff Green). I do think that if the Thunder had just made clear to Harden how appreciative they were of him continuing to sacrifice for the other two stars, and paid him the max with a smile on his face, that this is a team that wins championships together.

Now of course we know that's not how it played out and the Thunder ended up feeling like they needed to make a hard choice (that they seemed bizarrely eager to make a year ahead of time) during a year where they were title contenders. While I'll certainly say they should have kept the trio together, and I think it would have been simplest to have Harden keep being the 3rd banana, there's a really damning thing about OKC's handling of Harden that relates to their treatment of Westbrook:

James Harden is a much, much smarter player than Westbrook who was already getting raved about as the best passer on OKC BEFORE his breakout year. It's one thing if you say "We're keeping them all and we're going to keep roughly the same roles until we see a glaring problem", but if you were (foolishly) not impressed by Harden enough to keep him on your roster as that 3rd banana guy, don't you owe it to yourself to see what he could do when given more control?

Egos are tricky of course, but it seems clear that after 3 years in OKC, the Thunder were completely blindsided by the fact that Harden instantly pivoted to highly effective offensive fulcrum. That's not something that should have been possible. The Thunder should have been able to identify in that time what Harden was capable of.

When was the time to do that given the trickiness of switching roles after Westbrook was already established as the floor general s a rookie before Harden got there? As soon as possible, and if you're realizing Harden is taking a little time to hit the ground running, keep re-evaluating.

Why was this hard? Because OKC was winning Harden's rookie year with the Durant-Westbrook focus. It would be hard for any franchise to pull back from that...but when you don't, you risk missing out on something even better.

What would even better look like? Harden at the point which we know he can do with masterful IQ, Westbrook as the off-ball juggarnaut building further upon what made him so noteworthy at UCLA, and Durant as Durant. Merely keeping Harden probably yields titles, but a core with a different backcourt focus would have lifted their ceiling higher and made them stop looking like a pair of super-talented players without a coach.

All this is to say, the team very much chose Westbrook over Harden multiple times. They first chose Westbrook over Harden before they even had Harden, and then continued to do so until the trade they decided they had to make. And while it's hard to say precisely what the biggest mistake was in that whole run, the roots of the problem come from premature optimization. They were so desperate to say "We have our 2 stars of the future and we know exactly how we're going to play them" that they skipped time they could have used to figure out a better way to play the MVP trio together.

What about Westbrook over Durant? Not the same, but I do think it's quite clear that OKC let Westbrook keep developing as they did because they didn't realize Durant's frustration was building to the degree it was. They had to know the frustration was there, but I would imagine that every time they asked Durant about it he said the right things. Durant went alone with Westbrook's rise like everyone else in the organization did...until he started fantasizing about what it would be like to play for Golden State, and then when the opportunity came, the Thunder didn't get the opportunity to trade Westbrook to make Durant happy, because it was too late.

This is why I say that this is the sort of mistake that's just not possible to make with a guy like LeBron. LeBron takes control of every team he's on, and if he doesn't want a teammate playing a certain way, he tells him to change (or gets him traded). Durant was a "nice superstar" who was saying the right things based on trying not to be too selfish and it led the Thunder to wrongly conclude that the smartest action was to just keep letting the duo keep growing together.

Wrapping it all up: The Thunder ended up in effect choosing the least valuable of 3 superstar talents over the other two because they gave that least valuable superstar the floor general's primacy early on in his career, and while he was flawed in that role, he was too good within that role for the Thunder to ever feel comfortable charting a different path.

One lesson to be learned here is that if you're going to give a guy primacy from Day 1, you best have a clear sense of how you can pivot if this approach seems good but maybe not the best approach you can come up with.

Another lesson is that it's particularly dangerous to hand primacy to a secondary prospect. Had the Thunder looked to build an offensive scheme entirely around Kevin Durant, rather than letting Westbrook & Durant try to feel things out together, it's entirely possible they're spared a great deal of heart ache.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#27 » by PharmD » Sun Jun 28, 2020 9:43 pm

Better way to put it is that they kept Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins over Harden.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#28 » by BigBoss23 » Sun Jun 28, 2020 9:48 pm

Doctor MJ wrote:
76ciology wrote:We all know the story.

Westbrook, KD and Harden once played for the Thunders at the same time.

One by one they left the team. First Harden was traded, then KD walk then RW was traded.

Did OKC made the wrong bet in RW?

Or was everything just a stroke of bad luck with the players pretty much dictating the fate of the franchise?


I've put a lot into this, so I'll give my take. The big thing to understand here is that this is a story of subtle mistakes and bad luck derailing a smart organization. We have to look at the mistakes, but also be aware that this wasn't a story of incompetence.

The story begins in '07-08 where the soon-to-be-renamed SuperSonics go with what I call the "LeBron approach" to superstar training. Basically: We want you to be the superstar on this team, so we're not going to train you for a lesser role and wait until you "deserve" more primacy. We're going to put you in the role we're envisioning you and let you figure things out (with some pointers along the way surely).

That wasn't remotely weird. Frankly it's pretty normal, and for the most part worked out well with Durant. It wasn't until his 3rd year where he turned the corner and actually played that role like a capable star, but he did figure it out, and he figured it out before the team even had to think about the next contract. Win.

What was less usual was the fact that they doubled down on this approach the next year with Russell Westbrook. They said "You two are our stars, figure out how to play together." This was odd for 2 main reasons: 1) Westbrook was not remotely seen as a prospect on Durant's level, and so it was tying the future of your alpha prospect with another guy seen as much less of a sure thing, 2) they had Westbrook play a role not remotely similar to the one he played at UCLA - UCLA Russ was a "take nothing off the table guy" who helped in all sorts of little ways, wasn't an ultra-ball dominant point, and was known specifically for his defense, but OKC Russ would become known for an ultra-ball dominant style.

Leaving aside momentarily that Westbrook proved to be an NBA superstar level guy, this was a very risky proposition that chanced the team getting stuck as a "team without a system" with all sorts of sub-optimalities keeping them from hitting their ceiling. If you're reading that and saying "which is exactly what happened", I agree, but I'll also acknowledge that it turned out very well nonetheless, and I don't know if it would make sense to see as a mistake if not for Harden.

Harden came in as a 3rd banana guy, and came willingly - iirc he wrote a letter to Presti explaining how he saw himself fitting in with Durant and Westbrook. And of course, he played this role pretty much to perfection once he got his groove (especially after the trading of Jeff Green). I do think that if the Thunder had just made clear to Harden how appreciative they were of him continuing to sacrifice for the other two stars, and paid him the max with a smile on his face, that this is a team that wins championships together.

Now of course we know that's not how it played out and the Thunder ended up feeling like they needed to make a hard choice (that they seemed bizarrely eager to make a year ahead of time) during a year where they were title contenders. While I'll certainly say they should have kept the trio together, and I think it would have been simplest to have Harden keep being the 3rd banana, there's a really damning thing about OKC's handling of Harden that relates to their treatment of Westbrook:

James Harden is a much, much smarter player than Westbrook who was already getting raved about as the best passer on OKC BEFORE his breakout year. It's one thing if you say "We're keeping them all and we're going to keep roughly the same roles until we see a glaring problem", but if you were (foolishly) not impressed by Harden enough to keep him on your roster as that 3rd banana guy, don't you owe it to yourself to see what he could do when given more control?

Egos are tricky of course, but it seems clear that after 3 years in OKC, the Thunder were completely blindsided by the fact that Harden instantly pivoted to highly effective offensive fulcrum. That's not something that should have been possible. The Thunder should have been able to identify in that time what Harden was capable of.

When was the time to do that given the trickiness of switching roles after Westbrook was already established as the floor general s a rookie before Harden got there? As soon as possible, and if you're realizing Harden is taking a little time to hit the ground running, keep re-evaluating.

Why was this hard? Because OKC was winning Harden's rookie year with the Durant-Westbrook focus. It would be hard for any franchise to pull back from that...but when you don't, you risk missing out on something even better.

What would even better look like? Harden at the point which we know he can do with masterful IQ, Westbrook as the off-ball juggarnaut building further upon what made him so noteworthy at UCLA, and Durant as Durant. Merely keeping Harden probably yields titles, but a core with a different backcourt focus would have lifted their ceiling higher and made them stop looking like a pair of super-talented players without a coach.

All this is to say, the team very much chose Westbrook over Harden multiple times. They first chose Westbrook over Harden before they even had Harden, and then continued to do so until the trade they decided they had to make. And while it's hard to say precisely what the biggest mistake was in that whole run, the roots of the problem come from premature optimization. They were so desperate to say "We have our 2 stars of the future and we know exactly how we're going to play them" that they skipped time they could have used to figure out a better way to play the MVP trio together.

What about Westbrook over Durant? Not the same, but I do think it's quite clear that OKC let Westbrook keep developing as they did because they didn't realize Durant's frustration was building to the degree it was. They had to know the frustration was there, but I would imagine that every time they asked Durant about it he said the right things. Durant went alone with Westbrook's rise like everyone else in the organization did...until he started fantasizing about what it would be like to play for Golden State, and then when the opportunity came, the Thunder didn't get the opportunity to trade Westbrook to make Durant happy, because it was too late.

This is why I say that this is the sort of mistake that's just not possible to make with a guy like LeBron. LeBron takes control of every team he's on, and if he doesn't want a teammate playing a certain way, he tells him to change (or gets him traded). Durant was a "nice superstar" who was saying the right things based on trying not to be too selfish and it led the Thunder to wrongly conclude that the smartest action was to just keep letting the duo keep growing together.

Wrapping it all up: The Thunder ended up in effect choosing the least valuable of 3 superstar talents over the other two because they gave that least valuable superstar the floor general's primacy early on in his career, and while he was flawed in that role, he was too good within that role for the Thunder to ever feel comfortable charting a different path.

One lesson to be learned here is that if you're going to give a guy primacy from Day 1, you best have a clear sense of how you can pivot if this approach seems good but maybe not the best approach you can come up with.

Another lesson is that it's particularly dangerous to hand primacy to a secondary prospect. Had the Thunder looked to build an offensive scheme entirely around Kevin Durant, rather than letting Westbrook & Durant try to feel things out together, it's entirely possible they're spared a great deal of heart ache.


Agree with most of what you said, but not on the “you get what you see with Lebron while Durant wasnt being straight because he was too nice”.

The decision blinded many in the Cavs org including Mo Williams who threatened to retire. Then you have Gilbert’s famous memo.

Fast forward to 2014 and its Pat Riley’s turn to be furious. It wasnt until he the decision 2.0 that many people finally realized that Lebron was going to ring chase until the end of time and that cultiminated in Kyrie’s defection before Lebron could leave the Cavs again in 2018, when most people saw the writing on the wall combined with multiple examples of jumping ship when his championship window with the incumbent team was almost closed for certain after a core guy like Wade was on serious decline, Kyrie had left, or trades for someone like Paul George fell through because Lebron wasnt willing to commit to the Cavs beyond 2018.

As for OKC, they had some misfortune in terms of the timing of salary cap jumps, (cheap) ownership being fearful of the luxury tax to the point that they traded Harden while overpaying for someone like Perkins. It was the organization that was responsible for allowing their head coaches to simply let Russ and KD to continue going 1 on 5 without implementing a real system. Playing in the west compounded matters because they couldnt cakewalk to the finals year after year like Lebron in the east.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#29 » by bondom34 » Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:20 pm

Random thought, but since we've now seen that Harden and Westbrook were the closer duo relationship wise, and they did want to play together, and know Durant wanted an easy title either way, wouldn't they really have chosen him over the other two?
FoundANewSlant wrote:it's really fundamental defensive flaws exhibited here by Westbrook, PG, and Adams that put Melo into vulnerable positions here yet you can't recognize or explain it.

So Paul George is the reason Carmelo Anthony struggled on defense all these years...
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#30 » by Doctor MJ » Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:20 pm

BigBoss23 wrote:Agree with most of what you said, but not on the “you get what you see with Lebron while Durant wasnt being straight because he was too nice”.

The decision blinded many in the Cavs org including Mo Williams who threatened to retire. Then you have Gilbert’s famous memo.

Fast forward to 2014 and its Pat Riley’s turn to be furious. It wasnt until he the decision 2.0 that many people finally realized that Lebron was going to ring chase until the end of time and that cultiminated in Kyrie’s defection before Lebron could leave the Cavs again in 2018, when most people saw the writing on the wall combined with multiple examples of jumping ship when his championship window with the incumbent team was almost closed for certain after a core guy like Wade was on serious decline, Kyrie had left, or trades for someone like Paul George fell through because Lebron wasnt willing to commit to the Cavs beyond 2018.

As for OKC, they had some misfortune in terms of the timing of salary cap jumps, (cheap) ownership being fearful of the luxury tax to the point that they traded Harden while overpaying for someone like Perkins. It was the organization that was responsible for allowing their head coaches to simply let Russ and KD to continue going 1 on 5 without implementing a real system. Playing in the west compounded matters because they couldnt cakewalk to the finals year after year like Lebron in the east.


I'm specifically talking about the Durant-Westbrook dynamic. LeBron didn't leave because of how Mo Williams was playing, he left because Mo Williams is just Mo Williams and he wanted Dwyane Wade. Similarly when he left Miami he left because he no longer saw the talent on the roster as being sufficient to give him his best chance at championships going forward. I'll add that in both moves LeBron was 100% right in his assessment.

Moreover it's not like the Cavs didn't know that they were on the hot seat with LeBron. They had been desperately trying to acquire an actual co-star for LeBron for years terrified that he'd end up leaving if they didn't. And while in 2009 the probably felt pretty safe as the team broke through, it's simply silly if any of them thought they were safe with LeBron after watching Game 5 against Boston. Quite literally as I was watching that game unfold I was thinking "LeBron just realized he's going to have to leave Cleveland if he wants a championship". If there was anyone in the Cavs organization watching that game that didn't think "Uh oh", then that's incompetence and wishful thinking. It was written all over LeBron's face.

To me LeBron's always been cutthroat with his franchises to a fault, so I'm not looking to say this is all some super-positive thing - one thing to make the right decision about leaving, quite another thing to behave in a way most conducive to getting star talents to want to join you in Cleveland - but Durant very much has a contradiction in his behavior that set up OKC to be confused. This is a man who made fun of other guys joining super-teams on flashy cities. He carved out a media niche for himself as his generation's Tim Duncan, and bolted with all sorts of passive aggressive anger coming out, making himself look like an immature fool.

But to be really clear: The only reason he ever contradicted himself is that he was trying to do the RIGHT thing. What I see in Durant is a guy who essentially feels like he's been burned by trying to be the good guy, and now has bitterness. LeBron was always someone who was first and foremost about what was best for him, and that lack of caring overly much about being the good guy has allowed LeBron to get to make hard decisions without burning bridges so vocally, as Durant has done again and again and again as he decides this guy or that group is his enemy.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#31 » by Doctor MJ » Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:30 pm

bondom34 wrote:Random thought, but since we've now seen that Harden and Westbrook were the closer duo relationship wise, and they did want to play together, and know Durant wanted an easy title either way, wouldn't they really have chosen him over the other two?


I don't see any reason to think that a Harden-Durant duo couldn't have led the best offense in the league, and I think both guys would have been happy to play like that, so I can't quite agree.

I do think though that Durant was and is socially awkward in problematic ways. I think Westbrook always had a clarity about who he was and how he went about things and I have a feeling that that's why Durant wasn't really sure what to do when he got frustrated with the wasted possessions. You know that Westbrook is working his ass off, you know that he's not refusing to pass you the ball, so what exactly is the thing that you want? I don't think Durant ever knew. (Heck, does he know now?)

Since we're talking personalities and I'm generally a Harden guy, I feel I should say: Harden's a serious mixed bag of a personality himself. It appears that this was part of the reason the team was so sold on Westbrook over Harden and I appreciate that as a real factor to consider. If you really feel like Harden's not going to be happy as 3rd banana going forward, and you're much more comfortable with Westbrook not just as a player but as a professional, it makes sense to plan an exit for Harden.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#32 » by bondom34 » Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:46 pm

Doctor MJ wrote:
bondom34 wrote:Random thought, but since we've now seen that Harden and Westbrook were the closer duo relationship wise, and they did want to play together, and know Durant wanted an easy title either way, wouldn't they really have chosen him over the other two?


I don't see any reason to think that a Harden-Durant duo couldn't have led the best offense in the league, and I think both guys would have been happy to play like that, so I can't quite agree.

I do think though that Durant was and is socially awkward in problematic ways. I think Westbrook always had a clarity about who he was and how he went about things and I have a feeling that that's why Durant wasn't really sure what to do when he got frustrated with the wasted possessions. You know that Westbrook is working his ass off, you know that he's not refusing to pass you the ball, so what exactly is the thing that you want? I don't think Durant ever knew. (Heck, does he know now?)

Since we're talking personalities and I'm generally a Harden guy, I feel I should say: Harden's a serious mixed bag of a personality himself. It appears that this was part of the reason the team was so sold on Westbrook over Harden and I appreciate that as a real factor to consider. If you really feel like Harden's not going to be happy as 3rd banana going forward, and you're much more comfortable with Westbrook not just as a player but as a professional, it makes sense to plan an exit for Harden.

If you assume health in this duo but ignore the lack of it in the other that seems pretty disingenuous.

Also remember that Harden was generally not as good the early years I don't see a title at all. So instead of what happened you reverse the guards but have the same result. The two years after the trade Westbrook was still a better player, and removing either of the stars from OKC is what hurt them. The only season I'd say Harden would be argued is 2015, and Durant was out. Sure, maybe they like playing together but with no titles and the same Warriors team I can't see a difference in choice.

But why would we ignore injury?

Edited:

2013: Westbrook (or Harden) injured round 1. I don't see a different result at all and think to this day this was OKC's best year.

2014: Westbrook (now Harden) missed most of the season. Note this postseason Harden underwhelmed, posting a .519 TS in a round 1 loss to Portland. Westbrook was actually really good this playoffs and iirc POY voting showed as much.

2015: This season Harden definitely has an argument as the superior player, but here there's no Durant...so again the same final result.

2016: Probably Harden's worst year since the trade (maybe 13). Westbrook was at this point top 4 in MVP voting and to many outplayed Durant.
FoundANewSlant wrote:it's really fundamental defensive flaws exhibited here by Westbrook, PG, and Adams that put Melo into vulnerable positions here yet you can't recognize or explain it.

So Paul George is the reason Carmelo Anthony struggled on defense all these years...
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#33 » by BigBoss23 » Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:50 pm

Doctor MJ wrote:
BigBoss23 wrote:Agree with most of what you said, but not on the “you get what you see with Lebron while Durant wasnt being straight because he was too nice”.

The decision blinded many in the Cavs org including Mo Williams who threatened to retire. Then you have Gilbert’s famous memo.

Fast forward to 2014 and its Pat Riley’s turn to be furious. It wasnt until he the decision 2.0 that many people finally realized that Lebron was going to ring chase until the end of time and that cultiminated in Kyrie’s defection before Lebron could leave the Cavs again in 2018, when most people saw the writing on the wall combined with multiple examples of jumping ship when his championship window with the incumbent team was almost closed for certain after a core guy like Wade was on serious decline, Kyrie had left, or trades for someone like Paul George fell through because Lebron wasnt willing to commit to the Cavs beyond 2018.

As for OKC, they had some misfortune in terms of the timing of salary cap jumps, (cheap) ownership being fearful of the luxury tax to the point that they traded Harden while overpaying for someone like Perkins. It was the organization that was responsible for allowing their head coaches to simply let Russ and KD to continue going 1 on 5 without implementing a real system. Playing in the west compounded matters because they couldnt cakewalk to the finals year after year like Lebron in the east.


I'm specifically talking about the Durant-Westbrook dynamic. LeBron didn't leave because of how Mo Williams was playing, he left because Mo Williams is just Mo Williams and he wanted Dwyane Wade. Similarly when he left Miami he left because he no longer saw the talent on the roster as being sufficient to give him his best chance at championships going forward. I'll add that in both moves LeBron was 100% right in his assessment.

Moreover it's not like the Cavs didn't know that they were on the hot seat with LeBron. They had been desperately trying to acquire an actual co-star for LeBron for years terrified that he'd end up leaving if they didn't. And while in 2009 the probably felt pretty safe as the team broke through, it's simply silly if any of them thought they were safe with LeBron after watching Game 5 against Boston. Quite literally as I was watching that game unfold I was thinking "LeBron just realized he's going to have to leave Cleveland if he wants a championship". If there was anyone in the Cavs organization watching that game that didn't think "Uh oh", then that's incompetence and wishful thinking. It was written all over LeBron's face.

To me LeBron's always been cutthroat with his franchises to a fault, so I'm not looking to say this is all some super-positive thing - one thing to make the right decision about leaving, quite another thing to behave in a way most conducive to getting star talents to want to join you in Cleveland - but Durant very much has a contradiction in his behavior that set up OKC to be confused. This is a man who made fun of other guys joining super-teams on flashy cities. He carved out a media niche for himself as his generation's Tim Duncan, and bolted with all sorts of passive aggressive anger coming out, making himself look like an immature fool.

But to be really clear: The only reason he ever contradicted himself is that he was trying to do the RIGHT thing. What I see in Durant is a guy who essentially feels like he's been burned by trying to be the good guy, and now has bitterness. LeBron was always someone who was first and foremost about what was best for him, and that lack of caring overly much about being the good guy has allowed LeBron to get to make hard decisions without burning bridges so vocally, as Durant has done again and again and again as he decides this guy or that group is his enemy.


I think we can both agree that the way the Lebron and Durant eventually dealth with their critics has been different and I would prefer how Lebron has dealth with his, but I would also argue that its much easier to do when The Heatles didnt dominate the entire league to the extent that the KD Warriors did. When you throw in a large personal fan base from both the fans and the media, then it becomes more obvious that the two weren’t exactly in the same boat with public perception. Many on this board are still extremely salty about KD’s 2016 free agency decision to this day. Cant say the same for The Decision.

To me ultimately, both guys gave up a good 7-9 years on their original teams befor deciding they couldnt get to the pinnacle as constructed at the time of their free agency. Simple as that.

Some would argue OKC’s unfornate sequence of events that has yet to result in a title for them could be karma for how Clay Bennett moved the Sonics away from Seattle. If anything, that was the real villain move, the way the entire process unfolded. Never underestimate the basketball gods.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#34 » by AussieCeltic » Sun Jun 28, 2020 10:58 pm

C3H6N6O6 wrote:
Scalabrine wrote:
C3H6N6O6 wrote:OKC was a real title contender with KD and Westbrook.

If KD wanted to play more team oriented ball then he could have gone to Spurs. They'd be the favorites over KD-less Warriors unless LeBron somehow ended on the Warriors.

The Harden move was the only idiotic move. No one knew he would be this good but people still had him on the trajectory to be the next Manu which is a very valuable player.


The Warriors play team oriented ball, no?

KD said that he went to Warriors because of team ball when Spurs play team ball too. Talent was the only reason and it wasn't like he wasn't on a true contender in OKC anyways.


That makes no sense. That's like saying KD really likes Pizza so he got Pizza Hut and you're like "well he should have got Domino's, that's a Pizza too".

Second of all, the Spurs didn't have cap space to sign him anyway
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#35 » by Jcity08 » Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:33 pm

With Harden it's a hindsight is 20/20 moment but even then I found it strange that he was traded away.

However, with KD, he chose to leave as a free agent, nothing OKC could do to stop that.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#36 » by Picasso » Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:34 pm

OKC ownership and management made many mistakes. It started with backing out of the Tyson Chandler trade. That team would have been stacked had management not backed out of that trade and decided to pay harden.

Chandler
Ibaka (trade would not have effected drafting him)
KD
Harden
Westbrook.

That starting lineup would have been sick going on a finals run.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#37 » by docholliday99 » Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:49 pm

I realize that Harden was traded a year early but do we really know what was happening behind the scenes? For all we know, Harden could have threatened to sit out the last season if he wasn't traded - in that case OKC would have almost no leverage. Personally, I still can't see OKC and Harden not coming together for an extension with it being only a few dollars apart.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#38 » by Doctor MJ » Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:36 am

bondom34 wrote:
Doctor MJ wrote:
bondom34 wrote:Random thought, but since we've now seen that Harden and Westbrook were the closer duo relationship wise, and they did want to play together, and know Durant wanted an easy title either way, wouldn't they really have chosen him over the other two?


I don't see any reason to think that a Harden-Durant duo couldn't have led the best offense in the league, and I think both guys would have been happy to play like that, so I can't quite agree.

I do think though that Durant was and is socially awkward in problematic ways. I think Westbrook always had a clarity about who he was and how he went about things and I have a feeling that that's why Durant wasn't really sure what to do when he got frustrated with the wasted possessions. You know that Westbrook is working his ass off, you know that he's not refusing to pass you the ball, so what exactly is the thing that you want? I don't think Durant ever knew. (Heck, does he know now?)

Since we're talking personalities and I'm generally a Harden guy, I feel I should say: Harden's a serious mixed bag of a personality himself. It appears that this was part of the reason the team was so sold on Westbrook over Harden and I appreciate that as a real factor to consider. If you really feel like Harden's not going to be happy as 3rd banana going forward, and you're much more comfortable with Westbrook not just as a player but as a professional, it makes sense to plan an exit for Harden.

If you assume health in this duo but ignore the lack of it in the other that seems pretty disingenuous.

Also remember that Harden was generally not as good the early years I don't see a title at all. So instead of what happened you reverse the guards but have the same result. The two years after the trade Westbrook was still a better player, and removing either of the stars from OKC is what hurt them. The only season I'd say Harden would be argued is 2015, and Durant was out. Sure, maybe they like playing together but with no titles and the same Warriors team I can't see a difference in choice.

But why would we ignore injury?

Edited:

2013: Westbrook (or Harden) injured round 1. I don't see a different result at all and think to this day this was OKC's best year.

2014: Westbrook (now Harden) missed most of the season. Note this postseason Harden underwhelmed, posting a .519 TS in a round 1 loss to Portland. Westbrook was actually really good this playoffs and iirc POY voting showed as much.

2015: This season Harden definitely has an argument as the superior player, but here there's no Durant...so again the same final result.

2016: Probably Harden's worst year since the trade (maybe 13). Westbrook was at this point top 4 in MVP voting and to many outplayed Durant.


I'm honestly a bit confused about what we're debating here, but will agree that if Durant-Westbrook had been in ideal health their entire run they might have won a title.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#39 » by Doctor MJ » Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:39 am

BigBoss23 wrote:I think we can both agree that the way the Lebron and Durant eventually dealth with their critics has been different and I would prefer how Lebron has dealth with his, but I would also argue that its much easier to do when The Heatles didnt dominate the entire league to the extent that the KD Warriors did. When you throw in a large personal fan base from both the fans and the media, then it becomes more obvious that the two weren’t exactly in the same boat with public perception. Many on this board are still extremely salty about KD’s 2016 free agency decision to this day. Cant say the same for The Decision.

To me ultimately, both guys gave up a good 7-9 years on their original teams befor deciding they couldnt get to the pinnacle as constructed at the time of their free agency. Simple as that.

Some would argue OKC’s unfornate sequence of events that has yet to result in a title for them could be karma for how Clay Bennett moved the Sonics away from Seattle. If anything, that was the real villain move, the way the entire process unfolded. Never underestimate the basketball gods.


If you want to argue that Durant shouldn't be judged more harshly than LeBron for leaving his original team, I don't actually disagree. I was looking to speak to a more qualitative difference.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#40 » by bondom34 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:43 am

Doctor MJ wrote:
bondom34 wrote:
Doctor MJ wrote:
I don't see any reason to think that a Harden-Durant duo couldn't have led the best offense in the league, and I think both guys would have been happy to play like that, so I can't quite agree.

I do think though that Durant was and is socially awkward in problematic ways. I think Westbrook always had a clarity about who he was and how he went about things and I have a feeling that that's why Durant wasn't really sure what to do when he got frustrated with the wasted possessions. You know that Westbrook is working his ass off, you know that he's not refusing to pass you the ball, so what exactly is the thing that you want? I don't think Durant ever knew. (Heck, does he know now?)

Since we're talking personalities and I'm generally a Harden guy, I feel I should say: Harden's a serious mixed bag of a personality himself. It appears that this was part of the reason the team was so sold on Westbrook over Harden and I appreciate that as a real factor to consider. If you really feel like Harden's not going to be happy as 3rd banana going forward, and you're much more comfortable with Westbrook not just as a player but as a professional, it makes sense to plan an exit for Harden.

If you assume health in this duo but ignore the lack of it in the other that seems pretty disingenuous.

Also remember that Harden was generally not as good the early years I don't see a title at all. So instead of what happened you reverse the guards but have the same result. The two years after the trade Westbrook was still a better player, and removing either of the stars from OKC is what hurt them. The only season I'd say Harden would be argued is 2015, and Durant was out. Sure, maybe they like playing together but with no titles and the same Warriors team I can't see a difference in choice.

But why would we ignore injury?

Edited:

2013: Westbrook (or Harden) injured round 1. I don't see a different result at all and think to this day this was OKC's best year.

2014: Westbrook (now Harden) missed most of the season. Note this postseason Harden underwhelmed, posting a .519 TS in a round 1 loss to Portland. Westbrook was actually really good this playoffs and iirc POY voting showed as much.

2015: This season Harden definitely has an argument as the superior player, but here there's no Durant...so again the same final result.

2016: Probably Harden's worst year since the trade (maybe 13). Westbrook was at this point top 4 in MVP voting and to many outplayed Durant.


I'm honestly a bit confused about what we're debating here, but will agree that if Durant-Westbrook had been in ideal health their entire run they might have won a title.

I am as well. My statement was a response to the idea that the other duo would have been more successful, which I don't believe at all given the only reason the actual combo wasn't successful was injuries and other than a single season Westbrook was the superior player during their time together. The response that:

I don't see any reason to think that a Harden-Durant duo couldn't have led the best offense in the league, and I think both guys would have been happy to play like that, so I can't quite agree.


Ignores that OKC had a top 2 offense, and failed because of injuries in seasons where Westbrook was outperforming Harden. Basically replacing a player with another who at the time was worse and performed worse in the postseason (as noted in the edit). Ultimately 2016 Westbrook was fantastic, in their only healthy season, and better than 2016 Harden. And knowing they'd still have no titles Durant still sees the Warriors and has the same mindset so the initial response seemingly implying they'd have been more successful either ignores injuries or their level of play at the time, or more of both.

My original post was more a strange "what if" where with total hindsight in knowing that's all Durant wanted if OKC dared trade him and keep the two who seem most content and enjoy a relationship the most what happens. As well as the basic idea that the OP's entire premise was incorrect, they catered to Durant for most of a decade with most negative attention going toward Westbrook. It's kind of incredible that to this day it continues.

But get weird with it: Durant traded for the pick that becomes Davis in 2012. Westbrook and Harden want to play together, and add Davis.
FoundANewSlant wrote:it's really fundamental defensive flaws exhibited here by Westbrook, PG, and Adams that put Melo into vulnerable positions here yet you can't recognize or explain it.

So Paul George is the reason Carmelo Anthony struggled on defense all these years...

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