Share “Fans need to give Westbrook time”

By Darnell Mayberry Modified: September 29, 2008 at 7:13 pm •  Published: September 29, 2008

/> And with Kevin Durant and Jeff Green as the focal points of the offense, Westbrook must also learn to find his own opportunities while effectively getting Durant and Green enough touches.

In projecting Westbrook's rookie season stats, perhaps the most logical player for comparison is Williams, Utah's No. 3 overall pick in 2005.

Williams averaged 10.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in 28.8 minutes as a rookie alongside Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur. He played 80 games, 47 as a starter while splitting time with Keith McLeod and Milt Palacio.

For as good as Williams has become, even he struggled with the complexity of the position in his first season.

But Carlesimo is high on Westbrook and is entering Tuesday's training camp with confidence in his rookie.

While fans are likely to fall in love with Westbrook's high-flying dunks, Carlesimo likes what he calls Westbrook's "fundamental game,” defined by his stellar defense, stout work ethic and strong confidence.

"That alone is going to get him playing time, both at point guard and shooting guard,” Carlesimo said.

But don't expect gaudy numbers.

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With John Lucas III
What's it like to get another opportunity to showcase your skills in the NBA this preseason with the Thunder?

I played against most of these guys with the Rockets. So I'm just going to come in and try to contribute in any way I can. I'm a veteran now. I'm 25 years old. I've been in the league three years, so I know the ins and outs of the business. So I'm looking forward to helping out some of the young guys like Russell Westbrook. He's a very talented player, and I'm looking forward to pulling him under my wing and kind of guiding him through this.

Is it weird for you to refer to yourself as an NBA veteran now?

It's crazy. Time flies when you have fun. It seems like yesterday I just graduated from Oklahoma State, but it's been four years now. You just see yourself maturing as a man and as a player on and off the court. The veterans on the teams that I've been on have showed me that, and now it's kind of my turn to show the young fellas how to do it, too.

What do you expect out of this training camp?

Nothing but great things. Hard work. Listening to everything the coaches have to say. Try to be the best teammate I can be and contribute on and off the court in any way I can and hopefully make a home here.

"We don't think that he's going to walk in here next year and be shutting people down. But we feel like he's got the tools and the mentality to be a good defender as he learns the game and learns the pro game.”


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