NBA Playoffs: Is Russell Westbrook More Important To Thunder Than Kevin Durant?

The Oklahoma City Thunder are an immensely talented team boasting three players that have likely all earned themselves max contracts next time they're able to test the market. The most important of those players has come into question, however, as the Thunder attempt to hand the San Antonio Spurs their first loss of the NBA Playoffs.

Kevin Durant is typically the player keyed in on, and James Harden has earned quite a bit of respect on his way to earning Sixth Man of the Year honors. Those following the Western Conference Finals from the Spurs perspective -- especially over at SB Nation's Pounding the Rock -- see point guard Russell Westbrook as the most important piece of the puzzle.

To win a championship, a team needs two types of toughness: physical and mental. The Thunder exhibited both of these characteristics against the Lakers. But just because a team shows toughness, does that mean all parts of the team are tough? Not necessarily. For this reason, I think Russell Westbrook is the key to this series.

The majority of OKC's offense comes from their version of the "Big 3". Kevin Durant is going to get his, no matter how great Jax and Kawhi's defense is. He's that elite of a scorer, but of course it helps to limit his touches. James Harden's got game, but he's the only creator on their 2nd unit, thereby limiting his effectiveness against a good bench (this is when OKC really misses Eric Maynor). However, the Spurs have no answer for Westbrook's athleticism, speed and ability to finish at the rim. So why was he non-existent in the 4th quarter?

It wouldn't seem to be in the best interest of those on the Spurs' side to rattle Westbrook's cage, but we'll hold our judgment until the conclusion of Game 2 to see how the young guard responds.

For more on the Spurs, be sure to visit Pounding the Rock, for the Thunder, Welcome to Loud City. And, if you're looking for news, analysis and everything else revolving around the NBA Playoffs, be sure to visit SB Nation's NBA page.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.