OKC Thunder: Russell Westbrook's postseason raises expectations for the OKC point guard

In 19 playoff games, Westbrook exploded for 26.3 points, 8.1 assists and 7.3 rebounds per night.
Oklahoman Published: June 10, 2014

But the task of trailing Parker didn’t hinder him in other defensive areas. While slowing the head of the snake, Westbrook kept delivering blows to its body. He stayed active in the passing lanes, compiling 17 steals in the final four games, and acted as a weak-side deterrent, his mere presence jarring wary ballhandlers.

“People really be scared to handle against him,” Jeremy Lamb said. “Scared to make a soft pass.”

But it’s not always like that for Westbrook. Sometimes he can yield free lanes for potent guards. Or sometimes he’ll chase unobtainable steals, leaving his back line exposed.

“When Russ don’t gamble and he’s solid,” Kendrick Perkins said. “And he puts in his mind that he wants to be the most athletic point guard to play the position on the defensive end, he does it.”

And he did it for most of this sensational postseason, unleashing a side of this All-Star guard we had yet to consistently see. But it also places a burden of added expectations on Westbrook. Once you’ve shown it, now they’ll demand it.

“You saw it throughout this series how much it impacts the game and how it can help our team out,” Westbrook said of that ferocious end-to-end effort. “I’m definitely going to make more of an effort starting next year to do it throughout the season.”

ADDITIONAL LINKS

-Thunder roundtable: Is Russell Westbrook OKC's most important player?

-Russell Westbrook's season report card


by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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