NBA’s best team is bound to get better

John Davidson/The Chart

John Davidson/The Chart

By the time you read this, the Heat and Thunder will have already played for the final time this season. There will be a whole new twist in the LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant debate, but the storyline with title implications will be how Russell Westbrook and the rest of the Thunder play in his return to the lineup.

Westbrook has been sidelined for a majority of the season, up until now. He injured himself in the playoffs last season, and the Thunder crumbled. At times, Durant seemed to be on the court alone, trying to shoulder the burden of the absent point guard. It proved to be too much and the Thunder took an early exit from the playoffs.

This year, however, Kevin Durant flourished with his sidekick absent. He catapulted to the top of the MVP race in January after averaging nearly 36 points per game. Serge Ibaka blossomed into a capable second scoring option, extending his range and finding a decent mid-range game.

Because of Durant and the Thunder’s recent success, many people have a tendency to ask, “What if the Thunder is better without Westbrook?”

I have even asked myself that exact question before feeling guilty. It has been an absolute blast watching Durant single-handedly tear apart defenses, but without a doubt the Thunder is the best with Westbrook on the court.

Westbrook has played 25 games this season, and in those games the Thunder went 21-4. He had a triple-double on Christmas Day and hit a game-winning three against the Warriors at the end of November.

Westbrook is a player who can be very frustrating at times. He shoots too much, he takes the ball away from Durant, but he is damn good in his own right. While Durant has improved his game this year, it doesn’t erase the Thunder’s exit from the playoffs last season. Whether it is a win or loss against the Heat on Thursday night, the best team in basketball will only get better with Westbrook in the lineup.