Russell Westbrook's 47 points in Game 5 weren't enough to prevent the Thunder from being eliminated by the Rockets, and now that OKC's season is officially over, it's time to look toward the future.
Here are five things the Thunder need to do to improve for next season.
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Billy Donovan needs to actually coach
Donovan is the head coach of the Thunder, and beginning next season, he needs to start acting like it.
Westbrook had an absolutely incredible individual year, and he likely will be named MVP because of it. But Donovan is the one who allowed him to go one-on-five offensively for the better part of the 2017 season, and that was a disaster for the team's chances to advance in the playoffs.
No one else had the confidence or the experience to step up when Westbrook went to the bench, and in the fourth quarter of Game 5, we saw an exhausted Westbrook settle for a ton of long three-pointers without a single pass being made on those possessions.
The Thunder need Donovan to coach. Put in some sets, run some plays, and get Westbrook's teammates some easy looks. As we saw all too often this season, Westbrook simply can't do everything all by himself.
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY SportsRaj Mehta
Add another star alongside Westbrook
No matter how much we want to blame Westbrook and Donovan for the way things transpired in Oklahoma City this season, there's no denying the team needs another star player to compete with the league's elite.
Blake Griffin is one of a few who may be available this summer, after injuries have sidelined him for a second straight postseason and the Clippers have underachieved with him on the roster. He was born in Oklahoma City and played high school and college ball there before being drafted by the Clippers, so he could be a natural fit as the one to make the Thunder a legitimate contender once again.
If the Thunder won't play Enes Kanter, they need to trade him
Kanter was the second-highest-paid player on the Thunder this season with a salary of more than $17 million, but Donovan was caught on camera earlier in the series saying "can't play Kanter" at one point, and Kanter played just 3:22 in Tuesday's Game 5.
Kanter was a liability defensively in this series, and it's true that the playoffs are all about matchups. But this is a guy who averaged 14.3 points in 21.3 minutes per game in the regular season, and he's perhaps the only one off the bench who could be reliably expected to give Westbrook some offensive help.
If the Thunder have changed their view of Kanter's production so drastically, the front office needs to do everything in its power to move him for a player who's a better fit this summer.
Use the regular season to develop Westbrook's teammates
Westbrook needs help, and it's unfair to his teammates to say that he doesn't have any as the roster is currently constructed. How would we know? Half the time, guys are aggressively looking to get him the ball back, and the rest of the time, they're hesitant on their shots.
The Thunder need to take time during the regular season to develop guys like Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo, who appear to have plenty of raw talent while being just 23 and 24 years old, respectively. Prepare them for bigger roles in the postseason and they just might reward you with some unexpected results.
Get Westbrook to dial it back
This is the most difficult task ahead for the Thunder, especially after Westbrook likely will be coming off of an MVP season. But his historically high individual usage rate didn't translate into any real team accomplishments, and as we saw in the fourth quarters throughout this playoff series, his insistence on taking seemingly every single shot (no matter what the defense was like or where he was on the floor) only hurt his team's chances down the stretch of close games.
Westbrook proved his point in his first season without Kevin Durant by his side; we all know now that he can play as well as anyone in the league whenever he feels like it. But he needs to dial it back next season and get his teammates involved so he doesn't have to do it all alone. Only then will his team have a chance at true success.