Stempak: Westbrook, Green ripping through NBA
R.J. Stempak | Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Two players are beating up the NBA this year. But before I talk about them, I have a quick note on the one player connecting these two maniacs of pedal destruction: Kevin Durant.
Durant is quietly putting up career highs in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, rebounds, steals and blocks, to go alongside career lows in turnovers and minutes. He’s still really good, despite the Warriors being worse than everyone thought. Oh wait, they have the best record in the league. Isn’t that nice?
The first guy that is kicking the league in the face is Russell Westbrook. Everyone saw an outburst and increase in stats across the board, but no one knows what to do about him. He has five straight triple-doubles to give him a total of ten on the season.
He is averaging a triple-double overall with 31.1 points, 10.5 rebounds and 11.2 assists. Beast-Brook is the Thunder. His usage rate is at a career high of 41 percent. That means Westbrook uses 41 percent of his team’s possessions for a shot, a trip to the free-throw line or a turnover. To put that in context, second in the league is Demarcus Cousins at 37 percent usage.
Despite its reliance on No. 0, the team is not faltering.
Oklahoma City is 13-8, with four of those losses coming to Golden State, San Antonio, the Clippers and Toronto, some of the top teams in the league. The Thunder are clearly a second-tier squad, but their performance with Westbrook at the helm really makes losing Harden and Durant sting a little more.
Oh, what could have been. The trio that used to comprise the big three of the Thunder could find themselves together again at the top of the MVP race. Maybe it’s a moot point because all three require the ball to be in their hands to succeed, but then again, talent can often trump chemistry. And Oklahoma City had all the talent in the world just a few years ago.
Alone, they all have earned superstar status, lucrative shoe deals and plenty of shots on their respective teams. Maybe it is just meant to be this way.
The other bruiser I want to talk about is Draymond Green. The dude is out of control. Just the other night he attempted a layup and kicked James Harden in the face in the process. Two days later, Green kicked Marquese Chriss in the hand, dislocating his finger. And this was while he was standing straight up on the three-point line.
Of course, this has been brought up to Green, who was suspended in the playoffs last year for similar kicking-related activities. His response to ESPN reporter Chris Haynes is as Draymond Green as it gets.
“I just laugh at it because it’s funny how you can tell me how I get hit and how my body is supposed to react,” Green reportedly said. “I didn’t know people in the league office were that smart when it came to your body movement.”
I am no kinesiology expert, but when doing a rip through move, there is nothing that can propel your one leg straight up into your opponent. Your legs are planted the whole time.
Kicking is not a part of basketball, and the league needs to crack down on this behavior. Fine him, suspend him, do something. More people are going to get kicked in the heads, shoulders, knees and toes if he isn’t reprimanded.
No other body in the league reacts in this way and as often as Green’s body does. Maybe he should get that checked out.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.