After MVP campaign, Westbrook seeks ultimate team prize

Monday, October 16, 2017

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LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — Russell Westbrook, a singular force of nature in his historic 2016-17 campaign, now must find a way to thrive as a part of the rebalanced ecosystem of Oklahoma City Thunder.

Stung by a Western Conference finals exit in June of 2016 — quickly followed by teammate Kevin Durant's defection to the Golden State Warriors team that ousted the Thunder — the Oklahoma City point guard Westbrook responded with a season for the ages.

He averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists, joining Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double over an entire season.

With 42 triple-doubles, he broke Robertson's 55-year-old season record in a display of remarkable all-around excellence, the pinnacle achievement that double-digit totals in three of five key statistical categories has come to represent.

The six-time all-star won his second scoring crown and scored 40 or more points in 18 games on his way to NBA Most Valuable Player honours.

Despite the gaudy individual numbers, the Thunder finished sixth in the Western Conference standing and were ousted in the first round of the play-offs by his MVP rival, James Harden, and the Houston Rockets.

This season Westbrook and the revamped Thunder are hoping things will be different with the addition of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.

The arrival of George from the Indiana Pacers and Anthony from the New York Knicks means they and Westbrook will be able to share the offensive load.

But it also means players accustomed to having the ball in clutch moments will have some adjusting to do.

“It's going to take time,” Westbrook said. “It's not going to happen overnight. It's something you constantly have to keep working at.




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