Latest Sports Scores

Scoreboard

  • ALL
  • NBA
  • NHL
  • NCAAB
  • NBA
  • 2/24 7:00 PM EST
    MEM0
    IND0
  • 2/24 7:00 PM EST
    WAS0
    PHI0
  • 2/24 8:00 PM EST
    BOS0
    TOR0
  • 2/24 8:00 PM EST
    DAL0
    MIN0
  • 2/24 8:00 PM EST
    UTA0
    MIL0
  • 2/24 8:00 PM EST
    LAL0
    OKC0
  • 2/24 8:00 PM EST
    MIA0
    ATL0
  • 2/24 8:00 PM EST
    PHO0
    CHI0
  • 2/24 9:00 PM EST
    BKN0
    DEN0
  • 2/24 10:30 PM EST
    SA0
    LAC0
  • NHL
  • 2/24 7:00 PM EST
    EDM0
    WSH0
  • 2/24 7:30 PM EST
    CGY0
    FLA0
  • 2/24 7:30 PM EST
    OTT0
    CAR0
  • 2/24 8:30 PM EST
    ARI0
    DAL0
  • CBK
  • 2/24 10:00 PM EST
    OREST0
    CAL0

Russell Westbrook doesn't need a sidekick, and he's making sure everybody knows it

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

Kevin Durant's exodus from Oklahoma City meant a lot of things to a lot of people.

For starters, the growing number of fans who fed into an improbable love affair between a transitioning basketball franchise -- new name, new logo, new players, new attitude, the whole thing -- and a midwest state capital that doesn't even rank in the Top 25 in population among all major cities were absolutely crushed.

The people of Seattle were burned when the SuperSonics left them and bolted for blue and orange uniforms midway across the country in 2008-09, but the people who adopted this misplaced bunch and witnessed them transform into one of the greatest shows in league history for a seven-year stretch felt a worse pain when their savior slammed the door and didn't look back this past summer.

SEE MORE: What if LeBron James never took his talents to South Beach?

The Durant-Westbrook era ended like a Shakespearean tragedy. There was a noble protagonist, flaws and all, there was a heightened situation and then a fatal conclusion. The Thunder recorded 50-plus wins in five of six years with a full season; they went 47-19 in the lockout-shortened campaign. They fell in the Western Conference finals three times, and flopped in the NBA Finals once, but they never reached the top, and it's one of the biggest what-ifs we'll see for a long time.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Phoenix SunsGetty

Durant's surprising move affected the league as a whole too. It also affected LeBron James, who is now challenged with his biggest hurdle yet: Finding a way to orchestrate a repeat run with full knowledge he and his crew will run into a Super Team comprised of four of the best 20 players in the league before another potential parade spills into the streets of downtown Cleveland.

This affected Nike. This affected merchandise sales across the board. The list goes on and on. But what have we learned through the first week of the new NBA season?

Durant's highly magnified switch to the Golden State Warriors affected Russell Westbrook the most -- and it's creating must-see TV. You thought Stephen Curry's numbers were a little incomprehensible last year? Look what Westbrook is doing this year.

In the first three games, Westbrook has totaled 116 points, 37 rebounds and 35 assists. He is the first player to hit 100 points, 30 rebounds and 30 assists in three games to start a season, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

Based on his last outing in a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, Westbrook scored 33 points as part of another triple-double, but he focused more on his role as a facilitator on Sunday. He had 16 assists to go with 12 rebounds, helping his club stay undefeated.

According to the Thunder, Westbrook joined Magic Johnson, Jerry Lucas and Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history with two triple-doubles in the first three games of a season. He now averages 38.7 points, 12.3 rebounds and 11.7 assists.

Basketball Reference

If you look closely, Westbrook's best season in terms of scoring average came when Durant was injured for all but 27 games in '14-15. So is it feasible for him to continue averaging 30-plus and eventually become the first player to average more than 32 points since Kobe Bryant (35.4) in 2005-06? Yes.

The scariest part of this Revenge Tour is, he's even expanding his game. Westbrook matched a career high with five made 3-pointers Sunday. He was 5 for 6 after making going 2 for 10 from beyond the arc against Phoenix.

Are the Thunder better without Durant? Let's not go overboard here. But they're doing the right thing in trying to extend Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams to not only maintain a solid foundation for the future, but, more importantly, show Westbrook this is the best place for him.

The electric, do-it-all point guard is about to string together a full season unlike any we've ever seen, and it might even be enough for Oklahoma City to forget about KD. The best way to get over a breakup? Distraction.

So far, so good.

By: Brian Fitzsimmons

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners