Russell Westbrook had an interesting quote last week. He said something to the effect, “I know what I’m doing wrong and I know what I need to improve on, but with 82 games and playing every night, it’s not easy to change and learn on the fly.”
Nailed it, young fella. That’s why players get better year-to-year. They have a summer to reflect and take a breath. They can watch video, slow down and focus on details. Instead of just watching a little tape and getting an earful from a coach and then turning around and playing that night with all those thoughts running through their head, they can take time and progress naturally.
Some have been grumbling lately about Russell. He’s not a point guard. He’s a two trapped in a point guard’s body. He’s solid but he’s not the point guard of the future. He takes too many bad shots. He forces it all the time. Way too many turnovers. He’s not getting it. And on. And on. And on.
I can understand those gripes sometimes, especially when he tosses up seven and eight turnover games. I’ll admit to having headbutted my coffee table on more than one occasion when Russ forces a pass or takes a quick shot. The fact that he’s shooing 39 percent with over four turnovers a game this month is understandably frustrating.
But sometimes while we watch, it’s easy to forget what’s going on. He’s a rookie that’s never exclusively played point guard, even in college. Most didn’t think he was worthy of being the No. 4 pick. Most thought he would be a “project” or just a defensive stopper. And now look at him – possibly the Rookie of the Year and averaging 15 points, five assists and five rebounds, something not too many rookies have ever done. Seriously, that list is pretty thin – just nine other rookies have ever done it with names like LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson on it. Uh, that’s pretty good. Keep Reading…