Nick Wright unveils why this could be Russell Westbrook’s most important postseason with Thunder

– The point is, they are likely, now, probably, going to get the Spurs or the Pelicans or Golden State in the first round. We’re not– there are some other machinations, but those are the most likely outcomes. And I think most people believe, even without Steph, Golden State, with home court advantage– arrested Golden State– would be heavy favorites against the Spurs or the Pelicans especially with San Antonio, now that we know Kawhi isn’t coming back.

But this is the most important playoff series for– this is the most important playoff series the Oklahoma City Thunder have played, I would argue, certainly since the Western Conference finals against the Warriors. But you could make something of an argument, since the NBA finals against the Heat.

Because what it means– whomever they’re playing for the trajectory of this franchise, if they lose in the first round– they’ve got 47 wins. They got 47 wins last year. They got to the first round last year.

If they had the same result this year as last year, and then, all of a sudden, players around the league– most notably, Paul George, but all the other pending free agents in upcoming seasons– Klay Thompson a year from now, Boogie Cousins this offseason– whomever it is– say, well, maybe the method of Russ being the best player on a team just isn’t going to be a successful one, that it’s got a very low– I’m sorry, a very high floor, but also a low ceiling.

And what that means– like, Russ is relevant and will always be relevant in this league as an individual star. But will the Thunder continue to be relevant past this year? We felt like they got the most out of their season last year with Russ and the assorted parts with 47 wins.

If they get 48, when you bring in an all-NBA guy in Paul George, forget the Melo part of it. Like, it would be wildly disappointing, and that’s potentially what they’re staring at.

– Yeah, and if you’re Russell Westbrook, to put it even further under the microscope, this is your career, basically– this post-season. Because if they flame out in the first round, chances are– and look, nothing is set in stone– but chances are that Paul George walks at the end of the year. And then what do you have?

Remember, it’s not like Oklahoma City can take the money that Paul George leaves and go sign DeMarcus Cousins or whoever it is. They’re kind of locked in with some of their salaries there.

– Yeah, it’s not equal dollars.

– It’s not. But if you’re Russell Westbrook, this post-season could mean the difference between adding onto a team that’s a championship contender and competing for titles for the next five years for the prime of your career, or competing for a playoff spot for the rest of your career. You can’t understate the importance, the magnitude of this post-season on the future of Russell Westbrook as an individual.

NICK WRIGHT: Especially when you consider he’s locked in there.

– He’s locked in. That’s what I’m saying. Like, he’s not going to go– and look, one thing I can say this about– you know, Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City have a great relationship. So if it’s not going well in year two and year three, and Russell’s like, you know, maybe trading me is the best for both things, I can see them moving Russell Westbrook at some point. But for him in Oklahoma City, this is it. This right here– this post-season– is going to determine how his career plays out OKC.

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