The Thunder is deeper than last season. Hasheem Thabeet was the backup center last season. Now he’s third string, and not because his skills have deteriorated. OKC drafted over Thabeet (Steven Adams).
Suddenly, Caron Butler has boarded ship to take the Kevin Martin role. Butler’s not the scorer Circle K is, but he’s a better all-around ballplayer. Plus Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones and Andre Roberson all have played a bunch of minutes, even if Butler has swiped playing time from all. That only makes the bench better. Not worse.
And we haven’t even reached the No. 1 reason the Thunder could better withstand a missing Westbrook. Kevin Durant is playing out of his mind. Has all season. With Westbrook or without, but even moreso without. It’s like Durant has added Captain America’s shield to Superman’s cape. Scoring more, shooting better, passing wonderfully.
We saw that Friday night. Westbrook exited with 7:37 left in the third quarter. Durant played the rest of the game. In those 291/2 minutes (the game went double overtime), Durant had 28 points on 9-of-16 shooting, with six rebounds and five assists.
With Durant, all things are possible. Except the NBA title. He’s going to need Westbrook for that.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at . He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.