Blog Entry

So, what got into Russell Westbrook?

Posted on: April 26, 2011 3:11 am
Edited on: April 26, 2011 1:55 pm
Posted by Royce Young

There were a lot of stories to come out of Monday night's 104-101 Denver win over Oklahoma City. The fact the Thunder didn't close the series. The fact the Nuggets snapped a five-game losing streak to OKC. The fact Denver finally found some of that scary scoring balance again.

But the angle that has a lot of people talking? Russell Westbrook.

The Thunder's All-Star point guard scored 30 points, had five assists and six rebounds against Denver Monday. If you changed his name to Derrick Rose, everyone would promptly freak out. The catch here is two-fold: Westbrook took 30 shots and he also has this dude named Kevin Durant on his team.

Two plays stick out to a lot of people from Monday's game. With 30 seconds left and OKC trailing 98-96, Westbrook wasn't able to get the ball to Durant on the wing so with the shot clock winding down, Westbrook fired a 3. It rimmed out. Then with the Thunder down 101-98 and needing a 3 to tie with 10 seconds left, Westbrook took the ball on his own and airballed a 3-pointer with six seconds left as Durant stood waiting by the arc.

Curious, indeed.

Westbrook was 12-30 from the field while Durant was 8-18. Russell Westbrook took 12 more shots than the two-time scoring champion.

Curious, indeed.

However, having watched Westbrook a lot of this season, I can't bag on him too much for it. That's the player he is. If you want the All-Star Good Russell Westbrook, sometimes you have to live with the do-it-myself Bad Russell Westbrook.

I think a big reason behind Westbrook's ball-hogging was he sensed what I was seeing. The Thunder didn’t look comfortable in their own offensive skin. They were throwing the ball away, taking dumb shots, forcing things and not moving off the ball. So he tried to take over a bit. A lot of the stagnant offense is probably the fault of the point guard, but Westbrook is the new hybrid point like Derrick Rose and Deron Williams. He looks for his own as much as he looks for others.

And it’s difficult for Westbrook to turn it on in spurts. That’s would be the ideal Westbrook. The guy that can sense that moment where his team needs his offensive spark and give it for a few minutes and then turn the game back over to the natural rhythm and flow. But he’s not there yet. He’s just 22 and he’s still figuring all that out.

Thing is, to get Good Russ, sometimes you live with Bad Russ. He’s not a perfect player. He’s still developing. This wasn’t his finest hour but he was trying to win the game. That’s what he had on his mind. Did Durant need a few more touches? Absolutely. Does Westbrook deserve a bit of guff for what went down in Game 4? Definitely. But this isn't something to really get too worked over about. Yeah he took some questionable shots but that's Westbrook. He desperately wants to be the guy taking those shots. He's hit a bunch of big ones for the Thunder this season and I can promise you, every Thunder fan thought his 3 with 30 seconds left was about to drop through the bottom of the net.

In the same ways you can say Westbrook lost Game 4 for the Thunder, he almost won it for them as well. That's life in the Russell Lane. There are things he definitely should've done different. If Scott Brooks could transfer five of those bad Westbrook shots to Durant, the Thunder probably win the game. Can't deny that.

Westbrook is the ultimate "No No No Yes Yes Yes!" player. He takes a bunch of shots that while in flight you're saying are horrible but then you're clapping as it swishes through. And in those big moments, he lives to take big shots. The problem with that is, he has Kevin Durant standing on the wing waiting for the ball as well.

With Westbrook, it's all about accepting what he is. It's like the scene in Band of Brothers when Speirs tells that one guy crying in the foxhole, "The only hope you have is to accept the fact that you're already dead. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll be able to function." Westbrook isn't a "true" point guard. He never will be. The sooner you accept that fact, the sooner you'll be able to appreciate what he is. A darn good basketball player that still has some room to grow.

Since: Nov 27, 2006
Posted on: April 27, 2011 9:44 am

So, what got into Russell Westbrook?

Both KD and Russ are ok,,, so they didnt sweep,, so what, its hard to do unless you are a 1 vs an 8 or 2 vs a 7.  This is a 4 vs a 5 seed and in th ehistory of the game it hasnt happened that often.  OKC people are pumped because we get extra home games, heck we cant get enough.  I doubt Russell will shoot that many again unless KD gets hurt, in fact earlier in the year KD was hurt and Russell never put up that many, usually Harden gets the estra shots.  If anything Harden needs to wake up and quit taking 5 shots a game in 30 + minutes of play.  Again, the only 2 items that I was dissapointed in on Russell was not getting back on defense late in the game and the 2nd to the last 3 pointer,,,, too early in the shot clock and KD is standing wide open,,, KD that was 5 of 6 from 3 point range.  GO THUNDER!

Since: Apr 26, 2011
Posted on: April 26, 2011 9:25 pm

So, what got into Russell Westbrook?

westbrook is a good player, but last night he played out of character.  he knew from the start that he was having a off night but he kept trying.  i think its start to hit him that he is the 2nd best player and his ego is getting to him!! the coach needs to  handle it quick  i dont think that the nuggets can beat them but the next round could cause some problems if this becomes a normal occurance

Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: April 26, 2011 4:43 pm

So, what got into Russell Westbrook?

When you're the leading scorer in the league and half your points come from the get calls that aren't fouls. 
This makes no sense at all.  First, nowhere near half of Durant's points care coming at the line.  Second, it's hard to get points from the field when you're getting fouled, isn't it? 

Finally, name a scoring champion that doesn't shoot a ton of free throws.  Why?  Because drawing fouls is actually a talent.  You also get fouled when you're measurably better than the guy playing you and all he can do is reach.  Durant, Wade, Jordan, Archibald, Dantley, James, King, McAdoo, etc. - I'd bet they, and every other scoring champion in the last 40 years either led the league in free throws attempted or was close.  Given his style, I'd assume Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the last scoring champion who didn't shoot a ton of free throws.

Not by any stretch of the imagination does that mean "you get calls that aren't fouls" - any more than the next guy.  It's reflective of aggressiveness, skill, and role in the offense (more shot attempts, more foul shots unless you're just a catch and shoot guy (a la Ray Allen nowadays).

BTW, Durant averaged two fewer FTs per game this year than last.  He also averaged 20 points from the field, 7 from the FT line.  In the playoffs he's averaged 21 from the field and 9 from the free throw line.  Given that the playoffs are more physical, and the Nuggets are a physical team, this isn't a surprise at all.  Sounds right on track.

Since: Dec 17, 2006
Posted on: April 26, 2011 2:36 pm

So, what got into Russell Westbrook?

Haha, I actually agree with some of what you said.  When you talk about the games biggest floppers though you have to throw in Ginobli and Kevin Martin (the games BIGGEST flopper).  But, I actually liked the Thunder before watching the games as of late.  I think that Durant gets way more calls than he should.  When you're the leading scorer in the league and half your points come from the get calls that aren't fouls.  And what has he done to prove himself yet?  Nothing in my book.  But yes, unfortunately it will probably be Thunder in 5.  Hope I'm wrong.  Go Nuggets!

Since: Nov 27, 2006
Posted on: April 26, 2011 1:59 pm

So, what got into Russell Westbrook?

He tried to do too much, lets move on,,, by the time practice is over today he will have had to watch the video of himself doing something he really didnt do all season, and that should fix it.  The worst play he made was not getting back on defense and whining for the call late in the 4th, when his lack of effort cause an open 3 pointer, but ohh well.  Brooks coaches them to play through the cals not stop and beg for them, they need to check themselves.

As for flopping that is something I wouldnt bring up if my team has Felton, Nene or "Girly"nari on it, they are some of the biggest floppers around (with the exception of Chris Faull the III and Derek floppin Fisher) and Felton needs to quit looking like the (undercover brother, YMCA, I got this free throw guy,,,oops maybe not) and cut out the theatrics out on every play and just play ball.  Felton acts like every foul called was ridicuous and every non call was a crime, its hilarious to watch him shake his head and smile sarcastically after every play with his one crazy eye that moves everywhere... he kills me,,, THUNDER in 5 instead of 4!

Since: Mar 31, 2009
Posted on: April 26, 2011 1:40 pm
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Since: Sep 27, 2010
Posted on: April 26, 2011 1:33 pm

So, what got into Russell Westbrook?

I agree that Russ took way too many shots. He looked more like Iverson, trying to do it all himself. When you have the scoring champion on your team, USE HIM! It makes you look like a good point guard, distributing the ball and doing the things PG's are supposed to do. He'll get it together and the Thunder will finish the series in OKC Wednesday.

Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: April 26, 2011 12:42 pm

So, what got into Russell Westbrook?

My problem with Westbrook was he KNEW what was happening last night.  The little argument with Durant was about Westbrook not moving the ball, and it came early in the game.  So he went out and continued to chuck up threes in an apparent attempt to prove his studliness.  0-7 on threes, and not a good 3 point shooter in general, should tell Westrbook to move the ball.  But that's part of his immaturity, and last night, selfishness.  30 shots from your point guard means your offense is in trouble - unless you have nobody else on the team who can shoot or create. 

Grow up, Westbrook.  Realize you have great skills but your value isn't in chucking the ball up over and over again and defer to your talented teammates when its called for.  Close out game 5 with a well-rounded game and people will forget your selfishness last night.

Since: Dec 17, 2006
Posted on: April 26, 2011 10:14 am

So, what got into Russell Westbrook?

What I saw in Westbrook was a whiny little kid that thinks he's good enough to win the big games.  And, not saying that he won't be some day, but he's not the great player yet.  The only guy that should ever shoot 30 times in a game was Michael Jordan.  And it's sad that the NBA has become this, and at 22 he already realized that if you fall down and flop, you'll probably get the call.  Scotty Brooks, I loved you in Denver, but tell these kids that flopping and whining isn't good for basketball.

Since: Sep 8, 2007
Posted on: April 26, 2011 3:33 am

So, what got into Russell Westbrook?

Interesting observations about Russell Westbrook. He did try to do too much on his own tonight, but that's okay. Overall, the Thunder just didn't look sharp tonight, or as you say "comfortable in their own offensive skin." Perhaps they were already thinking about the next opponent, as when you beat a team 5 straight times in 18 days you tend to look past them -- it's human nature. Denver got a win tonight, but largely because the Thunder played poorly. Lots of turnovers, Bad shot selection. Daequan Cook didn't do anything, and neither did Maynor, except that 3-pointer that didn't count at the end of the quarter. Harden was so-so. Lots of wild drives to the hoop not only by Westbrook, but Harden, Ibaka, KD, and the rest, too. I did notice the refs definitely let the players bump and grind a lot more than the last 3 games. Much shorter game, and, fortunately for the Nuggets, not as many free throws were attempted by either team. OKC makes their FT's, and the Nuggets don't. Still, as poorly as the Thunder played, they were still in a position to win. The Nuggets played with a lot of heart tonight, and I agree about Westbrook - you have to live with him when he's cold as well as when he's on fire. Fortunately, he's on fire a lot more than he's cold. As awesome of a player he is, what's so scary is how much better he's going to get with more seasoning. Or, like you say, 'a darn good basketball player that still has some room to grow.' Meanwhile, the present certainly is impressive. GO THUNDER! 

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