The latest and most effective in-game strategy employed by Thunder coach Scott Brooks has served as a reminder of something everyone seems to have lost sight of. The biggest question on Russell Westbrook isn’t whether he’s a point guard, it’s whether he’s still on track to becoming the stalwart defender the organization thought it drafted in 2008. Remember how the Thunder touted Westbrook’s defensive skills after selecting him fourth overall? "He’s got a real focus on the defensive end, and that’s not an easy thing to find,” said general manager Sam Presti. "He has that mentality, and he enjoys digging in and doing the little things that really contribute to winning.” Somehow, the focus has shifted, first by the fans and now it seems by Brooks. Brooks recently has deployed shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha on opposing team’s point guards. He put his unquestioned star defender on Deron Williams in the second half last Tuesday at Utah and watched it result in a 104-94 win. The coach did it against Washington to stymie Wizards lead guard Gilbert Arenas in a 127-108 win. And Brooks did it once more in a 101-98 road win at San Antonio, relying on Sefolosha to put the clamps on Spurs guard Tony Parker late. Following Sunday night’s 100-91 loss to Houston, Brooks second-guessed himself for not applying the approach after Rockets guard Aaron Brooks’ second-half dominance sparked his short-handed team’s come-from-behind victory. Brooks’ the Rockets’ speedster, had 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting in the second half. He had two assists, two steals, one rebound and zero turnovers. But Brooks insists the strategy is not a slight to Westbrook’s abilities. "I think the strength of our backcourt with those two guys is they can switch off,” Brooks said. "It doesn’t give the offensive player a daily diet of the same guy. I’m using that to throw off the offensive player more than Thabo’s a better ball defender than Russell.” Westbrook has had his moments this season. His defense in the Spurs win played a large role in the outcome despite the switch. Westbrook also has held Orlando’s Jameer Nelson and Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings in check. And you can add to the list Sunday’s first half against Brooks, who had just three points on 1-for-6 shooting in the first 24 minutes. But like Westbrook’s offensive improvement, the defensive development figures to take some time, maybe even more. But it’s perhaps an even more vital progression considering the Thunder excels when it buckles down on the defensive end. Oklahoma City fell to 1-7 when allowing 100 points or more. Add to that, Kevin Durant and Jeff Green can carry the load offensively, but outside of Sefolosha there aren’t many on this roster who can shut down an offensive threat. If Westbrook can bloom into that secondary body, he’ll also become one of the few point guards in the league who can make that claim. Westbrook said his focus hasn’t shifted. He dedicated much of his summer to improving his ball-handling, shooting and decision-making. But he also drilled on defensive slides, worked on his on-ball defense through games of one-on-one and dissected hours of film to learn opponent’s tendencies. "He has the ability,” Brooks said. "We just have to continue to work at it and get it out of him. But I see improvement and I like what he’s doing. "We are improving because our defense is getting better, and Russell is a part of that. With our backcourt, Russell and Thabo, we can be very good defensively. They’re long, athletic guys that are tough enough to stay in plays on the defensive end.” Text "OKTHUNDER” to 65360 for your chance to win a $100 gift card to the Official OKC Thunder shop. NewsOK Thunder alerts from NewsOK sponsored by Totally Tickets.