Culture of Hoops

Russell Westbrook’s brother tweets plea for Scott Brooks to be fired

Emotions run high in the playoffs. It’s the most critical time of the season where players are critiqued under the strongest microscopic lens and, unfortunately, coaches are on and off the hot seat with similar pressure. Such is the case for Oklahoma City Thunder’s head coach Scott Brooks.

After a game three overtime loss on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Thunder are currently trailing in the series 2-1. Despite poor performances from Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant in-game three, some are calling for the axe to be swung in Thunder head coach Scott Brooks direction, most notably Westbrook’s brother.

After the Thunder’s 98-95 loss in Memphis, Westbrook’s brother Ray tweeted the following: “We need a coach ASAP like Rocky”. Ray later deleted his tweet and apologized for the short rant via Twitter.

It’s unknown as to if the other Thunder players (or Westbrook himself) share Ray’s sentiment about coach Brooks, and Brooks’ job security is even more of a mystery. One well-known factor is that Westbrook’s shooting in his first three playoff games this post season has been miserable to say the least. In a game one win for OKC, Westbrook shot 8-for-19 from the field and put up a donut out of five shots for three.  In a game two loss he shot 11-28 and 1-7 from three. Last night in-game three, Westbrook was 9-for-26 and hit four of 13 three-point attempts. Sub par stats to say the least for a so-called “superstar”.

In comparison to a couple of the top regular season three-point shooters in the NBA that are currently fighting for post season survival, Westbrook measures up, but on the wrong side of the scale. Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver shot 47 percent from three on the season and has attempted 18 three balls in three playoff games. Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry averaged 47 percent in the regular season, hitting a league high 261 shots from deep and has attempted 21 threes in his last three games played. Westbrook is absent on the list of the league’s top 20 players who led the league in 3-point field goals made or attempted in the regular season, so it’s baffling as to why he’s taken 25 three-point shots in three games. For those who despise math, that’s four more shots from deep than Curry, and seven more than Korver. Sketchy decision-making to say the least, and I’m certain Scott Brooks would love to have even half of those lost possessions back.

Russell Westbrook is one of the biggest catch 22’s in the NBA. His talent is immeasurable, and for good or bad, his impact on the game turns the tide for the Thunder. However his lack of poise and horrid decision-making also makes him one of the worst in the game. He’s consistently shooting the Thunder in and out of games, and if Scott Brooks is on the hot seat, Westbrook should certainly be as well.

Although the oldest basketball adage is that “players win and coaches lose”, it would be a mistake for the Oklahoma City Thunder to relieve Scott Brooks of his coaching duties. In the event that the Thunder are thwarted out of the playoffs in the first round, there still remains no replacement for Scott Brooks capable of pushing the Thunder over the top. There certainly isn’t a coaching prospect available with the ability to convince Russell Westbrook he’s number two. For some strange reason he things it’s his and Durant’s team. Perhaps the conversation that needs to happen in Oklahoma City is the possibility of life without Russell Westbrook. As Kevin Durant is the probable MVP of the 2014 season and definite scoring champ, OKC is his team. Until that’s made clear to Westbrook or he’s moved out of Durant’s way, the Oklahoma City Thunder will remain bridesmaids – never a bride.

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