Where Do The Thunder Go From Here?

Russell Westbrook Kevin Durant

Russell Westbrook is about to go engage in his best Allen Iverson impersonation over the next several months and how it all plays out may well impact where Kevin Durant comes to consider his personal stage in the coming seasons.

Oklahoma City Thunder officials announced early Sunday that the reigning league MVP will be lost to the team for a minimum of six weeks with a “Jones fracture” in his right foot.

With Durant and his 32 points and seven rebounds suddenly out of the Thunder lineup, the team will undoubtedly turn to the almost equally electric Westbrook. But could it all ultimately come back to burn the Thunder? Durant missing the first quarter or so of the season aside, OKC can almost assuredly survive with Westbrook playing the role of the lead, but what of the franchise’s long term star power?

All that is to say that for all the flexibility and versatility Russell Westbrook has displayed in his game over his first six NBA seasons, he’s shown just as little in the way he’s able to adjust and adapt to situations once he’s already set his mind on doing things in a certain and particular way.

Translation? How can the Thunder fully and perhaps even possibly believe they can ultimately make someone else the face of the franchise, even someone as clearly gifted and worthy as Kevin Durant, once they’ve handed the reins, no matter how brief, to the impressionable likes of Russell Westbrook?

Adding to all the intrigue is the irrefutable fact Durant has played some of his best NBA basketball while free of Westbrook, embarking on a streak of 41 straight games of scoring at least 25 points just last season.

Now Russell Westbrook gets his chance to shine solo, and knowing Russell Westbrook if it all goes anywhere near like it could go there may be no turning back. There may be no way he will remain willing to play Robin to Kevin Durant’s Batman status. In two seasons, Durant can become a free-agent and, much like the Cleveland Cavaliers came calling for native son LeBron James this summer, his boyhood hero Washington Wizards are expected to pull out all the stops in luring him back home.

By then, Russell Westbrook may have already made the decision for Durant and everyone else. And the answers could start to come over the next several weeks.

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Glenn Minnis
Glenn Minnis is an XN Sports NBA contributor. He has written for the Chicago Tribune, ESPN, BET and AOL. Follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.