By now you’ve probably heard that Rajon Rondo was cut/removed his name due to family matters. (Heh, family matters.) And if you’re sharp and on the ball, by Rondo being cut, that means that both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are on Team USA’s final 12-man roster that will be competing in Turkey next week.
Westbrook made an extremely strong case for himself in Team USA’s last two scrimmages, showcasing his hustle, athleticism and knack for heady plays. The indication is, by the way Coach K used him against Spain is that Westbrook will be used as a defensive stopper against the crafty guards from both Spain and Greece.
Most thought the final spot would come down between Stephen Curry and Eric Gordon, with Westbrook possibly getting the axe because the U.S. didn’t likely want to point guards that weren’t great shooters. Rondo, who started every exhibition before getting a DNP against Spain, was thought to be a lock. But honestly, Westbrook just outperformed Rondo. Some saw indifference in Rondo while he was on the floor, while Westbrook was as active and hungry as he always is.
One thing that I think is great about Westbrook’s emergence on Team USA, is that Thunder fans are getting a good look at Russ’s ability next to his peers. When you watch Derrick Rose, Rondo, Chauncey Billups, Curry and Westbrook all rotating in and out, there’s not any dropoff when Russ runs the show. Plus, when you watch a guy like Rose defend and then see Westbrook check the same guy, you can kind of appreciate Westbrook’s defense a bit more as well.
As far as rotations and how much playing time Westbrook will see, I’m guessing not a ton. He’ll like be the third point guard behind Rose and Billups but could be the second option if Billups plays primarily off the ball. Heck, Westbrook has seen a good chunk of time at the 2, so he might be ahead of Curry and Gordon there as well.
In any event, two Thunder players are on the U.S. roster, which will make the World Championships that much more interesting for OKC fans.