Home > NBA > Kevin Durant Needs A Point Guard: Trade Westbrook For Rondo

Kevin Durant Needs A Point Guard: Trade Westbrook For Rondo

After watching Dirk Nowitski and a veteran Dallas Mavericks team come back from 15 down with less than 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter to defeat a young OKC Thunder team on Monday night, a few things became clear to me.

First, let’s start with Mr. Nowitski The three shots Dirk made in succession last night (spot up three-pointer with a hand in his face, spin move plus sideways fade away on the baseline, and the multitude of spins and pump fakes in the key resulting in a fade away with a face in his hand) were, as ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy said, legendary.

As my brothers and I sat around watching the final minutes of the 4th quarter before the Mavs started the comeback, we were all yelling at the TV, trying to get Jason Terry and Jason Kidd to get the ball to Dirk. When you have a perennial super-star on your team and you need a 15 point comeback in the last 5 minutes of the 4th quarter on game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, you better get the ball into the hands of your best player and hope he gets hot. It is always great when bench players like JJ Barea can come on and get hot in the playoffs, but when you really need “it”, you need your super star to do it.
That is exactly what happened. The Mavericks’ point guards started getting the ball in Dirk’s hands and he made magic happen. He has been there before, he is a seasoned veteran, and he got it done.

Second, let’s talk about Kevin Durant. In a few years, Durant is going to be on a level similar to Dirk. A lot of people have started to over look his young age and are expecting the world from him this year. He is only in his early 20’s and is skinny as a rail. He has all the abilities to be a more dominant version of Dirk Nowitski. His shooting is already great and will only get better, he is tall, he is athletic and he can get up finish around the rim. Those last two strengths are attributes Dirk has never added to his arsenal. Yes Dirk may be in great shape, but agile is not a word I would use to describe his movement on the court.

With more time, some tough playoff loses, and a few more summers under his belt, Durant can become even more dangerous than Dirk is today. I see his top potential being a hybrid between Dirk and Kevin Garnett. I am not worried about Durant in that loss last night, as long he was taking notes on what Dirk did to his team last night.

Lastly, I learned a bit more about Russell Westbrook last night. Over the playoffs I have been reading a number of analysts taking small jabs at Westbrook about his reluctance to pass and tendency to take his own shot even when it is not falling. Surprisingly, after watching that game, the shots at Westbrook so far have been somewhat benign, never putting a loss squarely on his head. I am not going to blame this loss on Westbrook, but I did see some things in that game that made me think about how this Thunder team will operate in the future.

The same message of “get the ball in your super-star’s hands” that my brothers and I were yelling at the point guards of the Mavericks, should been yelled at Westbrook from all fans of the Thunder. The problem is, he might think that the ball is in the hands of the team’s super-star; him! That is a problem. For all the physical ability and explosiveness that Westbrook brings to the table, he is not the poised crunch time performer that is needed to win tight games in the playoffs. Not yet anyways.

Dirk Nowitski is that player, Durant is close to becoming that player, but Westbrook is too raw. A whopping 26 team turnovers and too many bad offensive decisions by the Thunder can both be attested to the play of the team’s point guard.

From the look on Westbrook’s face last night, he is struggling to balance out his own desire to be the super star and the rest of the world’s desire for him to defer to Durant in crunch time. Westbrook has the abilities to be a star, but he is not going to be a franchise player OKC while Mr. Kevin Durant is still there.
So, what would any reactionary basketball fan who has no emotional connection to the OKC Thunder suggest? TRADE WESTBROOK!

Ok, not so fast. I did put a little bit of thought into this one. After the breakout season that Westbrook had, where he outshone Durant for a good portion of the season that included countless highlight reel plays, his trade value has never been higher.

Unfortunately for the Thunder, we are in a current era of the NBA that is rife with high quality young point guards. To name a few, in no certain order, we have Rose, Paul, Rondo, Williams, Felton, Nelson, Jennings, Lawson, Curry, and even Teague. Due to this, there isn’t a team that is desperate enough for a point guard of Westbrook’s ability to offer up a big multi player deal (at least I hope no GMs are dumb enough to. That is a direct shot at you Jerry Colangelo).

What the Thunder need is a point guard who has the ability to be number two on a championship team, but is also willing to be seen as number two and is content with it. There are older point guards who would be perfect for this like Nash. He could bring a lot to this team and would be able to get Durant any shot he wants, but to be realistic, this trade would never happen. Based on the past moves of the Thunder’s management, they are not going to give up a very young, very skilled point guard for a guy in his very late 30’s.

The trade that makes sense is trading Westbrook straight up to the Celtics for Rajon Rondo. The list of reasons why this trade would work is long, but I will highlight a few.

-They are both young, skilled, and experienced point guards that anyone would have a tough time arguing who is better.
-The look on Westbrook’s face says he wants to be the “go to guy” on the team. The Celtic’s “go to guys” are all getting too old to play that role anymore.
-Rondo is a pure passer who is a liability when he is forced to shoot. On the Thunder he has the two time regular season scoring leader on his team to pass to.
-If the Celtics are going to rebuild around youth, Rondo isn’t the guy they can rely on to be the top dog. No one can rely on a guy who is afraid of shooting an open jumper from the top of the key.
-Rondo went into a massive slump this year when Kendrick Perkins, his best friend, got traded from the Celtics to the Thunder. Rondo will be back with his BFF in OKC.
-Despite how modest and loyal Durant is, if Westbrook keeps playing like this, KD is going to realize he not winning championships because of Westbrook. No one involved with the team would want that realization to come to fruition.

There it is; my big trade prediction for the off-season. A lot of this depends on how the Thunder finish the season. They are down 3-1 to the Mavs and I really doubt they will come back to win, but anything is possible. If they win this series and go to the finals there is no way Westbrook is going anywhere. But if they lose in game 5 with Durant not getting the ball in crunch time moments, look for Westbrook to be sporting green and white next year.

Follow Matt on Twitter: @Matt FOTB

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