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OKC Thunder: Russell Westbrook struggles to shake off the rust

Thunder guard is struggling with his shot, but facing the Golden State Warriors on Friday night might be a cure for his slump.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: November 28, 2013

Oddly enough, Westbrook got off to a similarly slow start shooting the ball when healthy last season. Through his first 10 games of the 2012-13 season, Westbrook shot an identical 38.8 percent and just 27.9 percent from 3-point range.

But it's clear this season that rust is a real factor.

Westbrook is missing more easy looks than ever before. He's shooting 41.5 percent on 2-pointers, which matches the career-low output from his rookie season. In each of the previous three seasons, Westbrook hovered between 45 and 48 percent on 2-pointers.

Surprisingly, it hasn't been his patented pullup jump shot that's been a problem. He's maintained his rhythm and accuracy from that distance and even improved from midrange. He's made 18 of 29 pullup attempts, or 62 percent, according to nba.com/stats.

But where Westbrook has struggled most is in the paint and at the rim, a sign that, while his explosiveness has returned, his timing just isn't quite there.

He's made just 45 percent of his driving layups, down from nearly 65 percent a year ago. From 5 feet and in, Westbrook has converted only 45.8 percent of his attempts, compared to 56.6 percent last season.

Similarly significant drop-offs can be seen in Westbrook's accuracy from 8 feet and in, from the restricted area and from inside the paint beyond the restricted area.

The good news for the Thunder is much of Westbrook's struggles appear to be nothing more than growing pains in his recovery.

And despite how bad a night like Wednesday can look, it's nothing Oklahoma City didn't expect.

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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