Thunder Rewind: Westbrook Wins MVP Following Durant's Departure

Following superstar Kevin Durant's departure, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook turned a would-be forgettable season for OKC into a spectacle.
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Oklahoma City’s 2016-17 season was a uniquely indescribable blip in the franchise’s storied history.

Russell Westbrook was simply astounding, and the rest of the team wasn’t.

With Kevin Durant’s departure fresh in the minds of the entire country, and especially the Thunder organization, Oklahoma City was entering uncharted waters.

Russell Westbrook was blatantly looked at as the cornerstone, but the rest of the pieces were built for a certain 6-foot-10 forward.

Oladipo wasn’t a No. 2 option. Steven Adams didn’t make another leap. No role players made a major jump with a superstar sized hole in the lineup.

The combination made for an isolated spectacle of an MVP season for Westbrook.

OKC won its first four games of the season, eventually losing its first game of the season to Durant’s Warriors.

Former Thunder guard Russell Westbrook.

Former Thunder guard Russell Westbrook.

Just a few games later, the Thunder lost four straight. It was a microcosm of the rest of OKC’s streaky season.

Three wins here. Four losses there. Then five wins and another three losses.

All the while Westbrook was a sight to behold, nabbing triple-doubles, hitting overtime buzzer beaters and giving few reasons to believe he wasn’t the best player that season.

The point guard led the league in scoring with 31.6 points per game, and broke Oscar Robertson’s record with 42 triple-doubles in a single season.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Westbrook said. “I’m just overwhelmed with joy, honestly. Just happy to be here. Didn’t know I’d be standing here with the MVP trophy next to me. I just know that every night, every day, every opportunity I get to be able to go out and work out, compete at a high level, I try to do it.”


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An anticlimactic end to an unforgettable season for Westbrook and the Thunder, Oklahoma drew Houston in the first round, losing in five games to the MVP runner-up James Harden.