Here's an idea for Russell Westbrook.
Develop a floater.
Most of the NBA's best point guards have that shot in their arsenal. Steve Nash. Rajon Rondo. Chris Paul. Tony Parker.
Westbrook should be next.
“Have you seen his floater?” Thunder coach Scott Brooks exclaimed, almost appalled at the thought. “I've seen it three times. It's not pretty.”
In time, though, that added dimension could make one of the game's most explosive point guards even more effective.
Westbrook, however, has yet to buy into that belief.
“That's not my focus,” said Westbrook, reasoning that he gets his shot off just fine without owning a floater. “Why would I shoot a floater when I can dunk on you?”
No holes in that theory.
But it becomes much more difficult to get to the basket in the playoffs. In the postseason, the pace of the game slows and offensive execution is dependent on how well a team runs its half-court sets.
Westbrook's penchant for playing out of control at times could also be improved with a high-arching floater from the paint in his back pocket.
Westbrook leads the league in turnovers with 249. That's 20 more than second-placed LeBron James. According to 82games.com, 36 of Westbrook's turnovers are offensive fouls. And many of those have come as a result of Westbrook charging down the lane without a specific plan, as he did Friday night against Detroit with 1:46 remaining and the Thunder clinging to a nine-point lead.
“We'll get him one this summer,” insists backup point guard Eric Maynor, who possesses one of the most consistent floaters in the league and has worked with Westbrook on his in practices. “Then he won't get charges. It'd be dangerous for everybody.”
After showing signs of growth last season, Westbrook's midrange game has now developed to the point it is now a consistent threat. He's shooting a career-high 37.5 percent from 10 to 15 feet, according to Hoopdata.com. But between three and nine feet, Westbrook is finishing at a career-low 28.7 percent.
While a floater could potentially lessen Westbrook's free-throw attempts, which currently are at a career-high 8.0 per game, it also could become one more skill that keeps defenders off balance. Westbrook already has wonderful body control, helping him to twist and turn to avoid contact at times. But he can be better.
Chicago's Derrick Rose, a workout partner of Westbrook's in the summertime, this season returned with a virtually unstoppable floater. Rose drives hard to his right, gets just near the block and tosses up a rainbow, almost while falling out of bounds.
Maynor, whose floater originated as a youngster playing against older, taller opponents, now sees how such shots frustrate frontcourt players.
“It's real tricky,” Maynor said. “You never know when it's going up. So the defender really is off balance all the time. This is my second year. I've gotten my floater blocked once, I think. And that was by (Andrew) Bynum. He had timed it perfectly.”
If nothing else, a floater can be used as additional protection. Instead of trying to challenge every post player, lobbing shots up ever so softly avoids unnecessary contact and limits the risk of injury. Westbrook has yet to miss a game as a pro.
But he takes a beating. And he won't be young forever.
“The good thing about it is he doesn't have to shoot it all the time. He can mix it up,” Maynor said. “If he develops it just a little bit it'll be trouble.”