What a season Russell Westbrook has had so far; breaking the record for most triple doubles in a season and carrying the Thunder single handedly. He is also one of the front runners for the MVP race and I’m sure that he will be the recipient of this award this year.
I really like Westbrook’s focus and hard nosed attitude but does this come at a price? In 2012 the Thunder made it to the NBA finals with a great team which over the years broke up. James Harden left the thunder first and few years later so did Kevin Durant. These moves were blamed on the fact that these players couldn’t play with Westbrook. Did he cost OKC a potential championship?
Russell Westbrook’s game
Westbrook is a fierce competitor and wants to win all the time. It’s really great to see, as this is very much Kobe Bryant’s mentality and I have so much respect for the way Kobe’s thought process worked. Funny enough, Westbrook’s idol when growing up was Kobe.
With his fierceness on the court mixed with his athleticism he is truly hard to guard. However, he does take a lot of risks especially on defence. Added to this, he does play out of control and force really bad shots. This is a particularly bad trait when he was playing with an superstar player like Durant.
I really like Westbrook’s mentality overall. I don’t agree with some of the things related to ego but overall I do respect it. This year he was asked if he was upset for not making the starting line up for the All Star game. His response was “I don’t play to play in the All-Star… I play to become a better player and to win championships.” But I have to wonder, would he sit on the bench to help his team win a championship? If that’s what was going to take to win one.
“I don’t play to play in the All-Star… I play to become a better player and to win championships.”
A true nature of a point guard
The role of a point guard these days have been blurred. The majority of point guards these days are all scoring guards. Curry, Lillard, Lowry, Westbrook to name a few. There aren’t too many John Stockton type point guards that look to pass the ball or create for their team mates.
I understand Westbrook is averaging 10 assists per game so from that stat line alone you can say my argument is flawed. BUT he is a one man show for OKC. Yes he is getting the ball out to his teammates but he is also taking the most amount of shots.
To analyse this a little bit better lets wind back the clock to when Durant was on the OKC team. Westbrook should have been looking for Durant more than forcing poor shots. He should have been playing with more control and picking his spots for the right time to shoot.
A perfect example I believe for Russell Westbrook to follow is the Jason Kidd way of playing. Look to pass the ball and get his team involved and then to score. If Westbrook played the game this way I think Durant would have probably stayed and even Harden. Could you imagine that line up today? I would go so far as to say they probably would have won a championship by now.
The true role of a point guard is to be a floor general and create for teammates. Pass first, score second! I don’t believe at any stage that a good point guard should demand anything for their ego. Instead should always put the team first.
Where does Russell Westbrook go from here?
Kobe went on a scoring rampage in the mid 2000’s and no one really wanted to play with him. But LA was able to build a team around Kobe and was able to win a couple of championships. I’m hoping the same will happens to Westbrook. Hopefully OKC can bring in some talent so that he doesn’t have to do everything himself.
If talent does come to OKC it would be best for Westbrook to adapt his game and be more inclusive of his teammates on offence. No one has won championships by themselves. Even the greatest of all, Michael Jordan, had a supporting cast and Westbrook needs to learn this and learn this pretty fast. He is approaching his 10th year in the NBA and soon to break 30 years old. Time is ticking.
Learnings to take away from Westbrook’s game
If you are a young point guard there’s a few things you need to take away from Russell Westbrooks game. They are both positive and negative.
- Have a hard nosed I want to win mentality
- Play hard like it’s your last game
- Be confident
- Rebound the ball, just because you are a small guy doesn’t mean you don’t have to get after rebounds
- Carry the team vocally
- Don’t play at one speed. ALL OUT! Vary your speed so that you keep your defender guessing
- If you are a point guard pick your spots and shoot at the right time. Don’t force shots
- Look to pass FIRST and shoot SECOND
Russell Westbrook is a dynamic and very exciting basketball player. He truly is a thrill to watch! He is a future hall of famer and I’m sure in the coming years he will break more records. I just hope that one day he will be able to tweak his game so that he gives himself a chance to win a championship. Taking the full responsibility of the team on by himself isn’t going to get him that ring.
What are your thought’s on Westbrook’s game? Do you agree with what I have discussed here? Leave a comment below and let me know.