Russell Westbrook had one of the best statistical runs in NBA history with Kevin Durant out for the later half of the season, but was unable to get the Thunder into the playoffs. While he may be the more exciting player Westbrook’s style of play doesn’t lead to wins but Durant’s play does.
During the stretch without Westbrook, Durant scored 35 points a game shooting 52.7% while guiding OKC to a 19-7 record. Westbrook may have scored a gaudy 31.3 points per game in Durant’s absence but he did so shooting 41.7% and the Thunder were only able to achieve a 15-12 record in those games.
When Durant starts shooting high volumes it’s not detrimental to the rest of the team, but when Westbrook cranks up his shots, the team suffers. Without Westbrook and with Durant the Thunder’s team FG% increased from to 46.5% to 48.2%. When Westbrook played without Durant the team experienced a slight decrease going from 45.4% to 45.0%. Durant’s shots were also more efficient then the rest of the team. While Durant was shooting 52.7% the rest of the team was shooting 46.48%. Westbrook was the opposite. He shot 41.7% while the rest of the team was shooting 46.7%.
The efficiency numbers are even more obvious on three pointers. Durant shot 39.9% beyond the arc while the rest of the Thunder were shooting 35%. Westbrook was shooting 30.9% while the rest of the team was shooting 38%.
Westbrook had 19.4 possessions a game that ended in either him missing a shot or turning the ball over. That amounts to 30% of the team’s possessions that end without a score. Durant only had 14.5 for 25% of the team’s possessions without a score. Westbrook also only scored 28% of the team’s points while Durant scored 33.8%.
Durant’s high shooting volume is justified, but Westbrook’s is not. During the ’13-’14 season Durant shot the second most shots per game of any small forward but that is because he had the third highest FG% of any other player at the position. Westbrook ranked 15th in FG% amongst point guards and attempted the most shots per game by 5.2. He shot the ball 31% more than the second highest: Steph Curry who shoots the ball with an adjust FG % 13.9% higher than Russ.
Westbrook and Durant were both high volume shooters when the other was out but Durant’s high number of field goal attempts was in the best interest of the team while Westbrook’s was not.
Durant without Westbrook middle of ’13-’14 (19-7)
Westbrook without Durant final stretch ’14-’15 (15-12)