Russell Westbrook’s pursuit of a triple-double average has given some NBA fans the impression that the Oklahoma City Thunder are a one-man team, but the reality is very different. OKC is obviously not the same squad without Kevin Durant, but a variety of role players have contributed to put the team near the front of the Western Conference’s second pack of playoff contenders. While the efforts of these players do not grab as much attention as those of Westbrook and other stars, they matter plenty.
Never fear, though, because Thunder shooting guard Victor Oladipo ensured that at least one non-Westbrook will receive some notice for what he did in Monday’s 102-99 road win over the Atlanta Hawks. Several minutes into the second quarter, Oladipo drove baseline and unleashed an early Dunk of the Year candidate on Hawks center Dwight Howard. Take a look at the top of this post.
Oladipo took a backseat to Westbrook and his sixth-straight triple-double (32 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists) over the course of the night, but there’s no question who had the single best highlight. Expect to see this one replayed for at least a few more months.
The Thunder allowed the Hawks to turn a 14-point advantage through three quarters into a one-possession game with several minutes left in regulation, but this was yet another impressive win for a surging squad. OKC has now won six in a row — concurrent with Westbrook’s streak — to improve their record to 14-8. A team that many thought would fall out of the playoffs entirely after Durant’s departure now looks to have a decent chance at homecourt advantage in the first round.
Westbrook’s MVP-level play has obviously been the biggest reason for the Thunder’s quality in 2016-17, but don’t sleep on Oladipo and other key rotation players. If you do, they might go ahead and dunk on you.
– – – – – – –