Westbrook's return to the starting lineup also will allow Jackson to take his place as the team's scoring spark off the bench. It's a role Jackson excelled in Sunday, appearing much more comfortable as he scored eight first-quarter points while leading the second unit.
But the biggest impact Westbrook could make might be in the team's offensive efficiency. Through three games, the Thunder has shot just 39.4 percent, third worst in the league. From behind the 3-point line, the Thunder is a league-worst 22.1 percent.
Westbrook's attacking style has always forced defenses to collapse at the rim, which leaves shooters open on the wing. Just having Westbrook back to apply that pressure could give the Thunder an important mental edge knowing shots will be wide open.
“He's a guy that can give us open looks,” Brooks said. “And it's something that we've talked about for a while now. And we got a lot of good looks (Sunday night). Eventually, we're going to hit some of our shots. We can't get discouraged. We have to still step up and step into the shot with confidence.
“But Russell does give our shooters opportunities because with his ability to attract attention, they know he's coming. And we want him to keep attacking. They know that he's going to attack in transition. He's going to attack in the half-court. And they have to be ready to catch and shoot, and I think they will.”
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