Russell Westbrook: Thunder Doesn’t Need to fill James Harden’s Slot

Russell Westbrook James Harden


I think if Scott Brooks allowed Russell Westbrook to take every shot for the Oklahoma City Thunder, he wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

The Thunder were able to amass a very impressive 60 wins sans James Harden last season, but when the postseason rolled around, you could tell they missed his scoring and play-making.

However, Westbrook, who suffered a knee injury in the series against the Rockets, doesn’t feel like the team needs to fill the gaping hole in the lineup caused by Harden’s departure, according to a Marc Stein of ESPN.

“Which is why so many of us pests on the outside are openly wondering if the Thunder, with suddenly little to show in return for Harden unless they use the trade exception they created via Martin’s sign-and-trade to Minnesota, have enough to regain the 60-win form we witnessed before Westbrook went down.

It’s no lock even if you presume, as we do here, that Westbrook will make a fairly full recovery from the knee tear he suffered when Houston’s Patrick Beverley lunged at him in Game 2 of OKC’s first-round series with Harden’s Rockets.

Said Westbrook: “The main problem is, I personally think, since James has left I think everybody thinks we need somebody to fill that slot. The slot doesn’t have to be filled. We have a great team. If everybody does their job, we should be all right.”

A healthy Westbrook and Kevin Durant, should be enough to get the Thunder through the regular season with a high seed, but when the playoffs roll around and the competition gets stiffer, a third consistent scoring option will be needed and right now, they don’t have one.