Thunder vet: Westbrook “thinks he’s better than Kevin Durant.”

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks (L) provides instruction to key players Kevin Durant (35) and Russell Westbrook (0) during Game 4 of their NBA Western Conference playoff series in Oklahoma City, April 24, 2010. REUTERS/Bill Waugh (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

The NY Daily News has a quote from an unnamed Thunder vet that is bound to stir up some controversy.

As one Thunder veteran said, privately, “He thinks he’s better than Kevin Durant.”

Not only that, but Westbrook has the backing of Thunder GM Sam Presti, who made a name for himself with his drafting of Westbrook with the fourth pick in 2008. Presti’s micromanagement behind the scenes has caused some friction between the head of the front office and his coaches, but Brooks didn’t pay any attention to that when he saw that Maynor was his best option to even the series.

Who is this veteran? And why is he dropping nuggets like this while the Thunder are in the middle of a knock-down, drag-out playoff series with the Mavs? Perhaps it’s a former player, not someone currently on the roster.

The thing that interests me about this story is the take of CBS writer Royce Young, who had this to say about Westbrook’s belief in his ability.

But when you’re an All-Star, a second-team All-NBA player that’s as confident in yourself as Westbrook, would you really not think you’re better than Durant. Not us in the general public here. We all know Durant is better. In terms of Westbrook, is it really so bad to think that? In fact, isn’t it probably a good thing?

No, it’s not a good thing. The best teams usually have players that know their roles. Pau Gasol doesn’t think he’s better than Kobe, and Kevin Garnett doesn’t think he should be shooting the ball instead of Paul Pierce. The last really great team to have a pecking order issue was the Shaq/Kobe-era Lakers, and look what happened to them. When Kobe accepted his role, the duo was able to win three straight titles. As soon as he started to try to take over alpha dog status, they crashed and burned in the Finals against a much more cohesive Detroit Pistons team.

If Westbrook does in fact think he’s better than Durant, then there’s trouble brewing in OKC. This isn’t the case of a young upstart trying to take the mantle from an established vet. These are two young players that will be playing with each other for a while, and if Westbrook can’t accept his role as second fiddle, then there are going to be problems down the line.

Scratch that — there might be problems right now.

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