Oklahoma City Thunder preview: How Russell Westbrook shrunk OKC's timeline

RUSSELL WESTBROOK — Oklahoma City went from a 23-win franchise to a title contender in four years. That's the same amount of time it took Russell Westbrook go from the surprised fourth overall pick in the NBA Draft to an All-Star. Coincidence?
BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Published: December 18, 2011
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“He's a different athlete,” Collison said. “There's very few guys that are that athletic at that position; maybe one, maybe Derrick Rose. But besides that, he's a special player. The key for him is figuring out some of the nuances of the game, and he's done better at that the last couple of years.”

Westbrook was the subject of widespread criticism throughout his first season. Even after earning All-Rookie First Team honors, skeptics focused on Westbrook's league-leading 274 turnovers rather than his flair for turning in spectacular plays. Slowly, though, a shift took place in our collective state of mind.

Gradually, Westbrook began to slow down. He began making better decisions. He developed his jumper. He started running his team like an experienced point guard.

“I remember in our pre-draft workout that clearly he had skills that I have not seen from a point guard,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “He had the strength and he had the quickness and the ability to get above the rim quickly. And not a lot of point guards are like that. He's just a special talent that works extremely hard.”

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