I’ve seen this tale before

While watching the Oklahoma City Thunder crumble down the stretch in tonight’s game, completely unable to execute anything resembling a basic offensive set, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “I’ve seen this tale before and it didn’t end well.”

Like Russell Westbrook, Steve Francis in his time was the most scintillating point guard prospect the league had seen to date.  Francis was spectacular and seemingly an unstoppable offensive force, at times.  But the similarities run deeper.

It’s often asserted that the Thunder are at their best with Westbrook at the ‘2’, or at the least, James Harden running the show from the wing, allowing the former to focus on scoring.  Rockets fans prayed for years that management would one day find a true point guard big enough to defend the league’s shooting guards, allowing Francis to focus on his strengths.  It never happened, Francis never learned the game, and the rest is history.

The Thunder are in a far better position, already having James Harden to quarterback.  (A point forward might be one of the rarest commodities in basketball.)  But from the Francis experience, I’ve felt that there’s something truly problematic about a young point guard not being able to run a team.  While it happened for Rajon Rondo, age and experience does not always translate to maturity.

I don’t know if Russell Westbrook will go the way of Steve Francis or if he’ll ever actually get it. He has youth and inexperience on his side.  But from my seat, there are painful similarities between the two and the last time I watched this script, it did not end well.

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

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  • luislandry

    Yeah, Harden was really killing it running the pnr, Brooks has to stand up to his club and implore them to keep going to what works. Back-against-the-wall-elimination-game is not the time for people to “get theirs”.

    That said I think it will happen for Westbrook just like for Rondo b/c of his closeness to his teammates. I think they can handle this situation on a personal level and convince him he has to play the right way. The Celtics were similarly close (albeit with a more veteran presence) and I’m sure Rondo heard it all but was too close to the team to take it personally and improved.

  • Anonymous

    Just not the same thing. Besides the obvious disparity in talent (Francis had hops and speed, but Westbrook just has more, plus a better nose for the ball and better passing abilities), Westbrook’s proven he can be a solid team player. He’s just too young and too inexperienced to start throwing out that whole “selfish” label whenever he mostly made good decisions throughout these playoffs. Sometimes, the defense is good enough (and smart enough) to goad a good player into taking shots he shouldn’t because they seem so much easier than the ones he wants. Russ will learn, in due time. If his body can handle the damage his game incurs.

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