Before this offseason Russell Westbrook and Billy Donovan had to feel like life was easy, they would get to the playoffs with no problem every year. Then all the changes came, Serge Ibaka was traded and Kevin Durant left to the Golden State Warriors. That left the two, Westbrook and Donovan, standing in OKC wondering what they had together. There was never any doubt that Donovan is in with OKC for the long haul and now, there is no doubt that Westbrook is either.
Westbrook is an elder statesmen for the Thunder now, only Nick Collison has been on the team longer than Westbrook has been. So what Westbrook has to do moving forward is show the young players the proper way to handle themselves. One of the most important aspect of playing in the NBA is trusting your coach, because of that Westbrook is becoming closer and closer to Donovan this offseason.
According to Erik Horne of The Oklahoman Westbrook had this to say about Billy Donovan:
“He got a chance to know me, I got a chance to know him, and we’re in a great place, Westbrook said, minutes before giving Donovan a couple of hugs. “I think coming into next year our relationship is in a great spot.”
There is no better spot for a superstar player to be than in a “great spot” with his head coach. In the past few years all kinds of problems between superstars and their coaches have come up. Many believe that last season Lebron James got his head coach fired and, at times, Kevin Durant could be seen upset with Billy Donovan.
The key for Donovan is that he knows the talent Westbrook has and how to use it. At times Westbrook will have to be let loose to do what he does and dominate the league, and other times Westbrook has to be put in check. If Donovan can find the right balance between those two then the Thunder will go on a big playoff run. Donovan proved last postseason that he is an elite coach, now is the time to put that into action. As long as the Thunder have Donovan and Westbrook on the same page, they will not be going down easily.