Inevitably, the subject of Russell Westbrook’s performance came up during Thunder coach Scott Brook’s media availability today. And it was clear that Brooks had been burning about what he’s been hearing and perhaps reading about his All-Star point guard.
I won’t waste your time writing in and out of Brooks’ quotes. Instead, I’ll just introduce them with an explanation of the context and let you read from there and draw your own conclusions from what is a rare moment of Brooks going off script and speaking with from the heart about something that has clearly disturbed him.
Here’s what Brooks said when told everyone is looking for the perfect game for Westbrook and asked how he felt Westbrook played Tuesday.
With Russell, we analyze every possession. I do that myself when we break down the films. But it seems like everybody’s breaking down the film. They’re like in my meetings or in my head. It’s not fair to him. It’s really not fair to him. He’s developed into an All-Star in three years. Not a lot of guys you can say that played the 2-guard spot in college and only for two years and can come in and lead a team that had a bad record three years ago and become an All-Star and make the playoffs twice. He gets criticized for every bad game. He’s not the only player that has a bad game. He’s not going to be the only player in the future that has bad games. But the only thing I can say about that is Russell knows what he needs to do. And we talk to him and he’s coachable and he wants to get better. He controls his improvement, and he has done that. He doesn’t listen to the critics because you can’t. You have to be hard on yourself and he is. And I’m hard on him. And we have an understanding that we only get better when he continues to improve and he has improved for three straight years. And that’s all I ask for.”
And here’s what Brooks said when asked if he thinks Westbrook is the most over-analyzed point guard in NBA history.
Maybe not the history. But for what he’s accomplished in three years, absolutely. He’s right up there. Think about what he’s accomplished, what we’ve accomplished as a group. I don’t use his age or our age as an excuse. But it is a fact. We’re all young players. I don’t mind the criticism. But every game? If he has a bad game do we…the guy is trying that’s all I care about. He tries, he cares, he wants to get better and those are the issues I look at with Russell. He’s not a traditional point guard but who is now? I mean, Derrick Rose is the MVP of the league and he leads their team in scoring. He takes the most shots. He’s good. That’s how they play and that’s how they win, but that’s point guards now. Point guards are like that now.”