Enigmatic. Selfish. Arrogant. Bricklayer. Unrelenting. Fearless. Aggressive. Confident.
These words, on either side of the Russell Westbrook fence, are just a few descriptive words you’ll read or hear about the young Oklahoma City Thunder point guard.
Unfortunately, those detractors wait behind a gigantic, muddy brown boulder, straddled with artillery, waiting for Westbrook to display poor judgment. Just like a lynching mob, they show themselves; they make their presence known and recite the same song and dance.
“Westbrook is selfish.” “Westbrook shoots too much.” “Westbrook is a liability.” “Westbrook is trash.”
It’s as if social media has paved the way to give a microphone to some of the worst sports opinions. They have beaten the “Russell is selfish” horse into zombie mode which is indicative of how carefully they pay attention to Westbrook’s role in the Thunder’s scheme. Rather than rewatching OKC tape, they would rather be sloths and allow Skip Bayless dictate their opinions.
It’s rather unfortunate, that a myriad of individuals only criticize Westbrook when he has a lapse in judgement vs the bevy of incidences where Russell Westbrook does phenomenal things on the court.
We, as an NBA audience, are watching a movie and this movie is ‘The Miseducation of Russell Westbrook.’
The selfish narrative that has been imposed on Russell Westbrook because he is indeed a shooting point guard is rather repetitive. Speaking on the particular entity, fans and even critics want Westbrook to shoot less, but Rajon Rondo (before injury, of course) to shoot more?
This is the utter definition of splitting horse hairs.
Let’s educate the world on Russell Westbrook.
During his NBA career, he has never missed one single game. In fact, he has played 358 consecutive games and he has never had to nurse multiple injuries like some of his point guard counterparts.
He has no injury kryptonite; his health and physical shape resembles one of the best in the NBA.
Not to mention, his durability began during high school, Leuzinger High School, and then his two seasons at UCLA.
As a freshman, he was 5’8′ and 140-pounds; he wouldn’t make the varsity team until he was a junior and didn’t even reach his full physical peak until the summer prior to his senior year.
He attended UCLA for two years, and started off backing up — as many of you know — Darren Collison. He was used as an energetic defensive player and recorded averaged 3.4 points, 0.8 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 36 games. After Collison fell to injury, he would see his minutes increase dramatically as well as his production as he recorded 12.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.6 steals.
“I was never really jumping that high when I was younger. I had to work on it. I didn’t dunk for the first time until the last game of my senior year in high school. ” – Westbrook
Bloggers, fans, experts often say “the numbers never lie” but often times the numbers never truly reflect the intangibles, the mental prowess, the locker room presence of a player.
There isn’t a metric for fearlessness or confidence or having a mental edge; those are all characteristics that are evident from watching games on loop time and time again. If one is to say ‘Westbrook is just immature’ they surely haven’t watched his personal growth in the NBA nor do they value his intangibles.
Pick your favorite point guard. Is it Raymond Felton? Perhaps, it’s Ty Lawson? Maybe you love Jeremy Lin or you are in love with Stephen Curry? While many of those point guards are above average points, they lack something that is special about Westbrook.
Fearlessness. Confidence. Mental Edge.
How often do you see Westbrook hesitate? Does he drive it to the hole with pure velocity or does he allow opposing defenses dictate his pace? His explosiveness? His confidence?
No. Westbrook’s mental and physical toughness not to mention his competitive acumen is elite. This is one of the major differential factors between him and your favorite point guard. He has a “Take No Prisoners” mentality.
Westbrook and Durant Coexist
Despite what you have heard, read, or believe; despite the selfish rhetoric or the Westbrook should just pass the rock critiques, Westbrook is an essential piece for the ebb and flow of the Thunder’s scheme. Not only the Thunder, but Kevin Durant.
Look at the season before Westbrook was drafted, Durant averaged 20.3 points on 43% FG, 28.8% 3P, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists. So, if we’re sticking to the “Westbrook hinders Durant’s game” schtick, wouldn’t Durant’s numbers decrease, or at the very least stagnate?
2008-2009: 25.3 points, 18.8 FGA’s, 47.6% FG, 44.2% 3P, 6.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists.
2009-2010: 30.1 points, 20.3 FGA’s, 47.6% FG, 36.5% 3P, 7.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists.
2010-2011: 27.7 points, 19.7 FGA’s, 46.2% FG, 35% 3P, 6.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists.
2011-2012: 28 points, 19.7 FGA’s, 49.6% FG, 38.7% 3P, 8 rebounds, 3.5 assists.
So far this season: 29.6 points, 18.4 FGA’s, 51.9% FG, 41.8% 3P, 7.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists.
Call me crazy, but looks like Kevin Durant is just doing fine with Russell Westbrook. So, I guess that just killed the “he’s stunting KD” narrative.
That doesn’t touch on the fact Russell Westbrook is essential in allowing Durant to be Durant; Westbrook is playmaking like no other without their former late-game facilitator in James Harden. Westbrook is averaging 8.3 assists, 3.5 turnovers, less FGA attempts (18.9) than last season (19.2), 40.9 AST%, 2.35 AST/TO ratio.
Of course, there will be the nay sayers who point out his turning over the ball, and his assist-to-turnover ratio, as the biggest hinderance. His turnovers are a negative, absolutely, but also something that does occur on speedy, athletic teams. Since so many statisticians love the “more efficient” Ty Lawson, his AST/TO ratio is actually 2.38.
Russell Westbrook is easily one of the most explosive and athletic NBA players that are in the league to date. Westbrook’s dominating and intimidating presence on the ball is what gets him noticed, but it’s his elite mixture of athleticism, speed, and courage that separates him from other guards in the league.
His sheer athleticism, his speed, and his fast-break offensive moves swindles opposing defenses; his innate ability to outwork most of the guards in the league is nearly unfathomable.
The truth of the matter is the NBA has seen this evolution of the point guard. There’s less of the “true point guard” and more of the scoring point guard. They are typically speedy, athletic, aggressive, and can attack at will. Derrick Rose, Ty Lawson, Russell Westbrook are just a few of them.
That’s okay, it’s okay to want a true point guard over a scoring point; the NBA is evolving and some are just so stuck in nostalgia they aren’t paying attention to what works now in the league. With that being said, it’s incredibly unfair to compare Westbrook to Chris Paul, when that’s not in his genetic makeup.
Westbrook is a dominant beast with confidence swagger; he isn’t a pass-first point. In all honesty, Westbrook’s durability alone makes him more suitable for many teams across the league.
It comes down to this, Russell Westbrook is an individual.
You can’t place him in a point guard mold.
Let Russell Westbrook Be Russell Westbrook: an athletic, dynamic, elite, fearless, effective point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder; the reigning Western Conference Champs.
That’s just some Westbrook education, so it’s up to you if you want to study the text, or just close the book.
The Miseducation of Russell Westbrook.