The 2016-2016 Oklahoma City Thunder
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The 2016-2017 Oklahoma City Thunder looked much different than the Thunder teams of the past. For the first time since moving to Oklahoma from Seattle, the Thunder did not have Kevin Durant on the roster. Durant had been the franchise cornerstone since 2008 but years of coming up short in the post-season forced him to depart from the team. Kevin Durant Signed with the Golden State Warriors which was very shocking at the time. A move that even shocked his former star teammate Russell Westbrook who was now forced to make a choice regarding his future.

Kevin Durant and Westbrook weren’t exactly the closest of teammates but they still played together for the majority of their careers up until that point. When Kevin made the decision to leave Russ let everyone know how he felt about his former teammate and how soft of a decision he felt it was. Russ decided to stay loyal to the Oklahoma City Thunder signing a 5-year, 205 million dollar extension. Westbrook has always been a fierce competitor whenever he stepped onto the court and now without Durant he would have to take his efforts to another level.

Russell Westbrook was on a mission

In the previous season, they made they were one game away from the NBA finals and won 55 games. Going into this season they were projected to win 43 games. The Thunder were never going to be able to replace a player of Kevin Durant’s skills on such short notice. However, the team wasn’t completely lacking talent with Enes Kanter, Steven Adams, and newly acquired guard Victor Oladipo. Westbrook entered the season on a mission to prove that he could lead this thunder team and that he didn’t need Kevin Durant.

For this Thunder team to be competitive Westbrook was going to have to play out of his mind. He did exactly that. The entire team revolved around Russ and his ability to completely dominate the court. Westbrook averaged a career-high 31.6 points per game, 10.4 assists per game, and 10.7 rebounds per game. He led the 2016-2017 Oklahoma City Thunder in all three major statistical categories. Russell Westbrook was a one-man wrecking crew and doing everything for the thunder averaging a triple-double and setting the All-time usage rate percentage at 41.65%.

This Thunder team wasn’t exactly filled with a plethora of scoring talent with Oladipo ranking second on the team at 15.9 points per game. They were often in close games which lead to Westbrook often being the hero the team needed to remain competitive.

Russell Westbrook Brings Home The MVP

The MVP race that season was highly contested between Russell Westbrook and James Harden. It created a debate on whether winning was more important than individual success. Westbrook completely captivated the fans and media alike with insane clutch performances willing his team to victories. Like this game versus the Orlando Magic where he scored 57 points in an overtime victory. Or the game where he set the record for the most triple double’s in a single season while hitting the game-winning shot eliminating the Denver Nuggets from playoff contention.

It was Impossible to deny Westbrook’s impact on the court for this team and with the narrative created by KD leaving he easily won the MVP award. However, This team would eventually lose to the Houston Rocket’s with the MVP 2nd place vote-getter James Harden winning the first-round playoff matchup. Although this team wasn’t expected to be a contender or a top team in the West. Westbrook made sure that this season will go down in history as one of the best from an individual player.