It's been the Russell Westbrook show in Oklahoma City when he's on the court. But when he's off the court the Thunder's offense becomes stagnant -- which has become a real problem for the Thunder early on this season.
Oklahoma City has been without backup point guard Cameron Payne thus far this season because of a broken foot.
Semaj Christon, who has been the backup point guard to start the season, has struggled mightily when he has replaced Westbrook on the court.
On the season, Christon is shooting a measly 31 percent from the field, as well as only 27 percent behind the arc. Not to mention he is only shooting 57 percent from the free throw line, according to basketball-reference.com.
Based on those stats, the Thunder desperately need Payne back on the court as soon as possible.
Unlike Christon, who is in his first full season with the Thunder, Payne is in his second season in the NBA with the Thunder and knows how to run head coach Billy Donovan's offense.
Although Payne did not get many minutes as a rookie last season, 12 minutes per game, before the Thunder made the trade to acquire veteran point guard Randy Foye, Payne was providing quality minutes on the floor having the ability to distribute the ball along with shooting the 3-point shot.
Having the qualities like Payne does, he is a player who can get the Thunder back on track when he comes back from his injury.
Westbrook can only do so much for the Thunder when he's on the court. He can rack up triple-doubles every night, and the Thunder will continue to struggle because of the lack of contribution from the point guard position when he comes off the court.
When Christon comes on the court, the offense becomes complete stagnant. There's no ball movement whatsoever, and it seems the Thunder are always playing from behind by the time Donovan puts Westbrook back on the court.
When Payne comes back from his injury, the bench will be able to perform at a higher level. Payne can run pick-and-roll with center Enes Kanter, drive to the lane and kick the ball out to shooters Anthony Morrow and Alex Abrines, and can shoot from behind the arc.
However, there have been multiple rumors suggesting the Thunder must acquire another wing player -- a player such as Rudy Gay -- to play alongside Westbrook so that Andre Roberson can slide back down into the shooting guard role and have Victor Oladipo come off the bench. But to make a trade like that possible, teams will look at Payne to be a part of any deal.
Oklahoma City sees firsthand that they cannot use Christon as a backup point guard moving forward. He does not have the abilities that Payne provides for the Thunder, and it has been shown through the first 16 games.
If the Thunder make any deal involving Payne, they better get a veteran point guard in return. However, a trade involving Payne is highly unlikely at this point.
The Thunder will just have to wait and see if Payne can provide the contribution they envision from him once he gets back healthy because they desperately need him.