Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden?

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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#41 » by Pennebaker » Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:44 am

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?


It didn't work because the Big 3 couldn't make it work between them. That is where it failed, imo - with the players. Selfishness and ego. Imagine if Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker wanted their own teams, or if Tim Duncan whined about shot attempts or credit. SAS wouldve ended up like OKC.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#42 » by dodongo » Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:31 am

JN61 wrote:No. It's all made up nonsense by media. Durant and Westbrook had no beef before Durant left and even Durant said so himself. Even though he might have went back and forth on this like 10 times already so who knows how he feels in this exact moment, but Westbrook wasn't the issue. Had they traded Westbrook Durant would have left not even thinking twice, when in this case it was very hard decision on him apparently.


Yup, KD said as much in his tweet.

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yitur wrote:The forgotten part about 2012-2016 OKC run is the injuries. In 2013 Playoffs Westbrook was injured in Rockets series. In 2014 Westbrook came back mid season and then Thabo and Ibaka was injured. Ibaka came back in the Spurs series but it wasn't enough after going back 2-0 against Spurs and Spurs defeated them 4-2. In 2015 Durant was injured and Davis' miracelous shot sent them out of Playoffs.

2016 was the only real shot OKC had after Harden trade. And Durant mocked it up.


Yeah, injuries really reeled the Thunder in. IMO 2013 they also had a good shot at it, but Patrick Beverley happened.

I think another major issue was Presti, while he was a master at asset management (winning trades, getting draft gems, etc.) he refused to be innovative with the on-court product. Imagine if he could have signed a coach like Steve Kerr, maybe prior to getting Perk.

His teams always lacked shooters, I think since the departure of Kevin Martin they were never really able to get a consistent second shooter.

Instead choosing to put money into paint guys (Adams and Kanter), probably would have been better had he gone for Brook Lopez (or a wing), instead of Kanter.

Of course being in a small market also limited his ability to acquire players, notably ring chasing FAs.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#43 » by Scalabrine » Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:41 am

AussieCeltic wrote:
C3H6N6O6 wrote:
Scalabrine wrote:
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


Neither are pizza to me but I like the point...
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#44 » by HeartBreakKid » Mon Jun 29, 2020 4:54 am

Scalabrine wrote:
AussieCeltic wrote:
C3H6N6O6 wrote: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


Neither are pizza to me but I like the point...

Dominos and Pizza Hut is pretty authentic for Oklahoma :wink:
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#45 » by mcmokken » Mon Jun 29, 2020 4:57 am

Picasso wrote: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.


Most people forget that they voided the deal over concerns over Chandler's "turf toe." Was supposed to end his career early, but instead he went on to win a championship and play another decade. Very underrated on the long list of OKC blunders.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#46 » by AussieCeltic » Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:50 am

Scalabrine wrote:
AussieCeltic wrote:
C3H6N6O6 wrote: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


Neither are pizza to me but I like the point...


Agreed. We have them both in Australia, so it's the only two companies I could reference that would make sense.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#47 » by 76ciology » Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:13 am

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.


Wow. This feels like a new York times best seller book excerpt

I’d just like to comment on the part of making it work with RW playing that UCLA role. I then ask this question, will it work?

I think the biggest problem OKC did was investing heavily on RW’s development that they kind of blurred out Harden and KD in the process.

Eventually RW turned out the best version of himself, but it really destroyed the team in the process. They lose Harden and KD and it’s impossible to win the championship with the style of play of RW.

It’s one of the drawbacks of prioritizing talent over style of play. That if they only look at the big picture, with Harden and KD’s style of play, they could have easily see that RW was the odd man out or the sacrificial lamb to make the entire thing work.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#48 » by donnieme » Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:25 am

More like they chose Perkins over Harden. IIrc at the time they could have amnestied him but chose not to. OKC's determination to ride or die with Perkins still does my head in, starting from their refusal to bench him in the finals when they were getting run off the court by the Heat's small ball. There's only so much championship experience can do when a starter is averaging 2/3. If they could go back in time they'd amnesty him
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#49 » by Eric Millegan » Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:22 am

Heat4lyf wrote:OKC chose saving a few bucks over keeping Harden

Durant chose an easy ring over trying to win in OKC


And Westbrook got sent away because of this:

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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#50 » by michaelm » Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:18 am

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.

Harden is a better point guard than Westbrook imo, and he and Durant together in their prime would have been unstoppable again imo, but this was revealed by that most powerful of instruments, the retrospectoscope, I think the stuff about there being no game plan beyond dual iso for Westbrook and Durant rings true, but KD seems to have decided to return to that game plan in teaming up with Kyrie anyway.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#51 » by michaelm » Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:30 am

76ciology wrote:
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.


Wow. This feels like a new York times best seller book excerpt

I’d just like to comment on the part of making it work with RW playing that UCLA role. I then ask this question, will it work?

I think the biggest problem OKC did was investing heavily on RW’s development that they kind of blurred out Harden and KD in the process.

Eventually RW turned out the best version of himself, but it really destroyed the team in the process. They lose Harden and KD and it’s impossible to win the championship with the style of play of RW.

It’s one of the drawbacks of prioritizing talent over style of play. That if they only look at the big picture, with Harden and KD’s style of play, they could have easily see that RW was the odd man out or the sacrificial lamb to make the entire thing work.

Sure, basically you can actually have too much talent, and fit is very important in NBA basketball.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#52 » by Stan » Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:45 am

How the hell did they choose Westbrook over KD when KD left in free agency?
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#53 » by Picasso » Mon Jun 29, 2020 12:09 pm

mcmokken wrote:
Picasso wrote: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.


Most people forget that they voided the deal over concerns over Chandler's "turf toe." Was supposed to end his career early, but instead he went on to win a championship and play another decade. Very underrated on the long list of OKC blunders.


Its crazy, also the year he won defensive player of the year, the second place vote getter was Serge ibaka.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#54 » by NO-KG-AI » Mon Jun 29, 2020 12:21 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.


I said even back then, that if you absolutely are sure you can't transition to Harden being the 2nd ball handler, the trade to make was trading away Westbrook. Harden/Durant is both more potent and the better fit, and I thought at the time that Westbrook had higher trade value than Harden for most GMs.

I'm not sure keeping all 3 together yields the titles that people think are such a certainty though. You'd be at the point very quick where you can hardly afford anyone but the 3, and I don't think you have all your bases covered for a championship squad with Westbrook being the 3rd best player, and his best asset being scoring and passing, but not as well as the other two. Just a lot of overlap in areas of focus.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#55 » by ATRAIN53 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:20 pm

No, they would have kept KD if he would have stayed. He's the one who chose to bail.

Imagine drafting all 3 of those guys and not having a championship to show for it.
How did it go from KD having Russ at his MVP ceremony and he's crying and saying I LOVE YOU MAN to bailing on him in FA.

I think this is why I'm still soured on KD.

I cheered hard for that OKC team to knock of the GSW.
That's gonna be one of those playoff series I remember for a long time it was that good.
They were close and maybe it would have taken another season, but coming back and finally knocking GSW off would have been like the Bulls overcoming the Bad Boy Pistons. Watching KD and Russ dispatch Steph and Co would have been epic.

I see why CP3 pulled into OKC and wasn't like get me out of here. That fan base is rabid. They come out and support that team. I'd rate it a top NBA venue, it's looks intense to play there and those fans love the game and support hard.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#56 » by bondom34 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:59 pm

People somehow forget that Westbrook was regularly outperforming Harden those years and it's kind of blowing me away.

You can "fit" talk all you'd like but 2013 there's zero debate, 2014 one missed most of the season, and 2016 Harden was clearly the worse player so you end up with one season of Harden actually being able to produce with Durant and it's the season Durant was injured. Harden at the time struggled in the postseason in Houston and ended up with a disappointing resume until he ascended more post 2017. But here we are with a 2 year attention span despite every impact metric leaning Westbrook prior and OKC having far greater success.
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#57 » by Doctor MJ » Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:00 pm

76ciology wrote:Wow. This feels like a new York times best seller book excerpt

I’d just like to comment on the part of making it work with RW playing that UCLA role. I then ask this question, will it work?

I think the biggest problem OKC did was investing heavily on RW’s development that they kind of blurred out Harden and KD in the process.

Eventually RW turned out the best version of himself, but it really destroyed the team in the process. They lose Harden and KD and it’s impossible to win the championship with the style of play of RW.

It’s one of the drawbacks of prioritizing talent over style of play. That if they only look at the big picture, with Harden and KD’s style of play, they could have easily see that RW was the odd man out or the sacrificial lamb to make the entire thing work.


Thanks for the kind words!

I don't think there's any question of whether the suggested roles I've presented would be great, but it's highly debatable whether they'd have actually been better than they were because they were already incredibly good. I vote yes, but reasonable people can disagree. It's a fascinating case study.
homecourtloss wrote:Only good thing about quarantine Is that Dr. MJ is posting again. :lol:


Tryin' to avoid the strident debates. I'd rather just help others understand.
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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#58 » by Doctor MJ » Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:07 pm

michaelm 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.

Harden is a better point guard than Westbrook imo, and he and Durant together in their prime would have been unstoppable again imo, but this was revealed by that most powerful of instruments, the retrospectoscope, I think the stuff about there being no game plan beyond dual iso for Westbrook and Durant rings true, but KD seems to have decided to return to that game plan in teaming up with Kyrie anyway.


Oh boy, don't get me started on KD choosing Kyrie as his next partner. The mean-spirited part of me would laugh if Kyrie continues to behave like he did in Boston and we see a "Who the hell did I get into bed with?" expression on KD's face.

But will see what happens. My guess is that Kyrie treats KD with a great deal of respect both on and off court, that the Nets are good, and that the tough part comes from the realization that they won't be good enough in the playoffs against tough competition. I'd imagine losing to the much younger decisively itself will present a "midlife crisis" moment for KD ("Uh, he's younger and better than me and no one is paying attention to me other than to point out I've been surpassed. Damn blogboys!"), but it will be worse if the Nets aren't even good enough to get to the Bucks. It's not hard to imagine a scenario where the Nets lose in the first round to Celtics/Raptors/76ers, and if the Nets are playing at their realistic ceiling when this happens, ouch!
homecourtloss wrote:Only good thing about quarantine Is that Dr. MJ is posting again. :lol:


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Re: Did OKC choose Westbrook over KD and Harden? 

Post#59 » by bondom34 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:16 pm

michaelm 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.

Harden is a better point guard than Westbrook imo, and he and Durant together in their prime would have been unstoppable again imo, but this was revealed by that most powerful of instruments, the retrospectoscope, I think the stuff about there being no game plan beyond dual iso for Westbrook and Durant rings true, but KD seems to have decided to return to that game plan in teaming up with Kyrie anyway.


And actually this is true...now. But from 2013-16, when they would have been together wasn't. Going through again:

2013: Injury and Westbrook was the better player and PG.

2014: Same injury

2015: Harden was better....but Durant was injured.

2016: Harden's worst season, disappointing in both RS and PS.

From 2018-now Harden has been the better player no doubt, but that's looking at their current level and projecting it back along with health. So basically assuming everything is not only perfect but that Harden is suddenly better than he was. The issue with those teams was a mix of health and running into the Warriors. Harden wasn't fixing that, and now Westbrook playing at a level that was a top 5 player and being better at the time than Harden is forgotten which is kind of amazing. To add, Harden's greatest success has been when he's been even more ball dominant than Westbrook in those days and the complaint seems to be Durant needed all the shots.

We saw the Warriors lose when Durant got injured. The same would happen if it were Curry. OKC had the equivalent of that twice in 4 years with far worse depth.
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#60 » by Doctor MJ » Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:19 pm

NO-KG-AI 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.


I said even back then, that if you absolutely are sure you can't transition to Harden being the 2nd ball handler, the trade to make was trading away Westbrook. Harden/Durant is both more potent and the better fit, and I thought at the time that Westbrook had higher trade value than Harden for most GMs.

I'm not sure keeping all 3 together yields the titles that people think are such a certainty though. You'd be at the point very quick where you can hardly afford anyone but the 3, and I don't think you have all your bases covered for a championship squad with Westbrook being the 3rd best player, and his best asset being scoring and passing, but not as well as the other two. Just a lot of overlap in areas of focus.


Yup, and I'm also someone who was higher on Harden than Westbrook at that time. We were in the minority, and the comparison is moot to some degree because the right play was to keep both, but it's fascinating the fact that we were so much more correct about Harden than Presti and the Thunder were.

I've got to be real: Whenever I'm right like that I try to check my ego. I have no magic ability to predict how players can scale and I know this. If I had been in Presti's position, with Westbrook already established, with Westbrook being seen the superior off-court asset, possibly with an owner saying "Pick 2, we can't keep all 3", knowing that picking Harden over Westbrook will end my career if I'm wrong, I may make the same move as him.

And of course, literally no one predicted he'd invent the step-back 3 has an effective part of his repertoire.

But at the time if very much felt like a philosophical difference. Was Harden's focus on high value shots the only reason he was able to reach 6MOY type value and an indication of a largely optimized player...or was it the way that every star should be playing? If you felt the latter, it was pretty dang clear that Westbrook would never be able to play that way, so it made sense to give Harden more primacy.

Re: Can't afford anyone else if you keep the Big 3. Well, they'd already given Ibaka the contract and had other role players they could re-sign as needed. Like all putative dynastic cores of the modern game you're going to gradually deplete your depth over time, but I do believe that Thunder had basically all they needed to take another leap forward and be the best team in the league at least until the Warriors caught fire.
homecourtloss wrote:Only good thing about quarantine Is that Dr. MJ is posting again. :lol:


Tryin' to avoid the strident debates. I'd rather just help others understand.

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