How Russell Westbrook legacy will benefit from Kevin Durant’s departure

Russell Westbrook flies to the rim against ClevelandRussell Westbrook” (CC BY 2.0) by  EDrost88 

The world stopped on July 4th 2016 but it wasn’t for Independence Day. It was for Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 27-year-old made the shock announcement that, after nine years with the Seattle SuperSonics and Oklahoma, he was on the verge of joining the Golden State Warriors – much to the dismay of City Thunder supporters and the rest of the National Basketball Association.

And while Oklahoma will struggle to replace the second overall pick from the 2007 NBA Draft in free agency, they may already have a competent star ready to step up to the plate and take over the mantle. Russell Westbrook has always lived in the shadows of Durant but he now finally has the opportunity to lead the line as Oklahoma’s main man – and he will relish the chance to try and guide City Thunder to the playoffs after a decent campaign.


At the time of writing, most bookmakers aren’t giving Oklahoma a chance. However, the current crop of City Thunder players will be chomping at the bit and Billy Donovan’s side will be desperate to prove their doubters wrong.

Because let’s be honest, nobody really knows what to expect from Oklahoma City Thunder next season following these developments. If Westbrook raises his game, they remain playoff contenders and from there, anything is possible. They exceeded expectations last season as they reached the Conference Finals but fell to Golden State in the deciding clash. In that seven-match series, Westbrook finished as Oklahoma’s top points scorer twice – and they won both contests.

While this doesn’t necessarily mean much, it does show one thing: Westbrook is capable of performing on the big stage. Without sugar-coating it too much, Durant’s departure is a huge and devastating loss for City Thunder. It will be incredibly difficult for them to bounce back from this; especially when you consider their draft slot, but if anyone can lead them out of the doldrums, it’s Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook is ready to take on the mantle of leading Oklahoma this season. He is an experienced professional and the fourth overall pick from the 2008 NBA Draft boasts the qualities and traits to suggest that he will be a superb leader. If nothing else, he could perform incredibly well and go on to earn his own move to a potential championship-winning side.

But for now, he must concentrate on the present. Russell Westbrook’s time to step out of Kevin Durant’s shadow has finally arrived and NBA fans will be excited to see if he can deliver. Oklahoma City Thunder won’t roll over and die after Durant’s backstab and Westbrook and co might even face Golden State in the playoffs next season…

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