Martin Hanzal is a very good hockey player.
But he is quite an unremarkable player.
He doesn’t wow you with a powerful shot or sublime puck skills. He doesn’t take over games with his speed. He doesn’t say things to the media that draw attention to himself or rock the boat.
Based on those things, you wouldn’t think that Hanzal managed to be incredibly polarizing in his 7 weeks in a Minnesota Wild uniform.
In the post-game press conference after Oklahoma City’s tense Game 4 loss to Houston, Westbrook swatted away a question to Steven Adams about the Thunder’s performance when he was on the bench. Westbrook was trying to save his teammate from embarrassment, yet it was also a performance to signal to his teammates that he didn’t see himself as above them. He wanted to relay that they won and lost the same way: as a team working together.
But 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 Best Place To Buy Cheap Jerseys 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.