Does quick exit devalue Westbrook’s season?

Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook looks up at the scoreboard during the second half against the Houston Rockets in Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Tuesday, April 25, 2017, in Houston. The Rockets won 105-99, taking the series 4-1. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Thunder didn’t make it out of the first round. Should that change how people view Russell Westbrook’s season?

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The story:

This season wasn’t going to end any other way for the Thunder. A team so dependent on the brilliance of one individual never had a chance in today’s NBA. The archaic formula could work in the regular season against other flawed teams and in an environment where the opponents are constantly changing. But faced against a real Houston Rockets team in the playoffs, with an equally brilliant star and a good supporting cast, there was no other conclusion than a quick 4-1 exit. We’ve seen varieties of this situation before, but never to this extreme. This severe reliance on one man was the result of losing Kevin Durant, which destroyed a team structure built to run on the talents of Durant and Russell Westbrook. The duo had been just one game away from beating the 73-9 Warriors and going to the NBA Finals. With Durant in the Bay Area, the Thunder had to decide whether to rebuild or fight in vain. Westbrook, always seeing the impossible as a test rather than a dead end, could only choose one path. He was going to fight, and he’d bring his teammates as far as he could all by himself.

Chris Broussard on Westbrook:

Zito Madu from SB Nation:

The team’s strengths and weaknesses were clear as day all season. Westbrook is its best player by a comically large distance. If he is not scoring or creating, the Thunder are lost. Westbrook’s demonstration couldn’t disguise that. Against the Rockets, this disability was put in the harshest light.

The Thunder built big leads with Westbrook in early and relinquished them in the few minutes he sat. When Westbrook tried to clean up his teammates’ mess, he’d spotlight the worst of his game. Playing from behind, with no one else to initiate the offense or get buckets on their own, he took matters into his own hands in the worst ways, shooting as much as possible. For three quarters, he was at his best. But eventually, exhausted by the burden of being his team’s only scoring source and tormented by the Rockets triple-teaming him, everything went to hell.

Matt Moore from CBS Sports:

Whatever you wanted from Westbrook, he gave you: a blaze of flawed glory, the triple-double, the effort, the energy, the mistakes, the amazing and the awful. He outscored the Rockets when he was on the floor. He lost the series. He put his team in a position to win. He was 4-of-14 in clutch time (game inside five points in the final five minutes) and a minus-13. You can say whatever you want about Westbrook after this season, and there is both no argument against it, and a counter-statement to it. But make no mistake, this season belonged to him. He may or may not be the MVP (and it looks likely he will be voted as such), but no matter the result of that award vote, no one’s going to forget a season where he averaged a triple-double while leading the league in scoring. Think about that. He led the league in scoring, while also getting double-digit rebounds and assists, regardless of how he did it. He led comebacks; he was one of the best clutch-time players in the league until the playoffs.

Eric Freeman from Yahoo Sports:

It’s probably not worth rehashing all the arguments over Westbrook after 87 games in 2016-17 and plenty more in previous seasons. Nevertheless, what was remarkable about the finish to Game 5 was that nearly all of those familiar points seemed true. Those prone to harp on Westbrook’s weaknesses could point to his insistence on taking 18 3-pointers despite making only five, his lack of trust in his teammates (including on one play where he appeared to block Jerami Grant’s putback attempt), and a seeming inability to find a good shot in crunch time. But those who are inclined to see things from Westbrook’s point of view had plenty of evidence for their case, too. The Thunder really couldn’t do anything without Westbrook on the floor this entire series. There were gaps everywhere — Andre Roberson was a major liability as a target of intentional fouls but had to play for his defensive value, and at times every lineup looked like Westbrook and four players who excel at tapping the ball out on offensive rebounds. Is it really fair to cry “inefficiency” over someone who puts up 47 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists when his teammates do so little to help him?

What do the fans think?

What do you think? Should losing change how people view Russell Westbrook’s season?

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