Billy Donovan Rumors
What does Payne’s return mean for Semaj Christon, who has backed up Russell Westbrook the first 36 games of the season? Donovan said it could open up even more three-guard configurations between Payne, Christon, Westbrook and Victor Oladipo. “We’re getting another creating guard to come in to help with ballhandling, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that Semaj is cut out of the mix,” Donovan said. “It could be a situation where those guys are actually on the floor together some.”
Since those back-to-back losses, and entering Tuesday’s matchup against Miami, Westbrook had averaged 38 points (48.4% shooting overall, 40% from three-point range), 12.4 assists and 10 rebounds per game as the Thunder went 4-1. With the Thunder (19-12) sitting at fifth in the West, the timetable for Oladipo’s return has not been set. “The major problem for him is shooting,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan told reporters on Monday. “That’s the biggest problem because he just has a really hard time following through. And especially the farther he moves away from the basket, the more painful it is for him. The more he has to flick his wrist, that’s where he struggles.”
The Thunder point guard is one-tenth of a rebound away from averaging a triple-double on the season. Donovan admitted Monday morning Westbrook could end the season as the second man in NBA history to average a double-digits in points, assists, and rebounds. “Yeah, he could do it. He could do it,” Donovan said. “I’m not gonna say he is or isn’t because I think the more important thing is Russell is winning, but he’s a guy that has great impact on generating assists. He has a great impact on rebounding the basketball, and he can score. So, there’s certainly a possibility that can happen. Obviously what he’s done this point in time has been pretty remarkable.”
Drama no longer comes in the form of whether he can assemble another triple-double — reaching double digits in three statistical categories — but whether he can pull off the feat in a single half. His gaudy numbers hardly register with teammates anymore. It is just his way of doing business. “Outside of you guys talking about it, nobody talks about it,” said Coach Billy Donovan, who detailed the countless other postgame topics of conversation that take precedence, including potential areas of improvement and Oklahoma City’s next opponent.
Through two games, Westbrook is averaging 41.5 points on 32.5 shots per game. Thunder coach Billy Donovan knows that offensive stress won’t hold up over 82 games. “Overall, we’ve gotta get more people involved,” Donovan said. “We’ve gotta be able to utilize our big guys better and pound the ball inside.” But Donovan was OK with Westbrook’s shot selection. Westbrook’s 44 shots Friday eclipsed his career-high of 43, which came in a 54-point performance two seasons ago. His 38.6 percent from the field was the lowest in a 50-point game since the 1983-84 NBA season.