“I'm going to take full responsibility to come out every night making sure that we start the game off on the defensive end,” Westbrook said.
According to statistics compiled by Synergy Sports, ballhandlers in the pick-and-roll are scoring just 0.66 points per possession against Westbrook in the pick-and-roll. That ranks Westbrook 25th, but still perhaps doesn't illustrate how effective Westbrook's ball pressure, both in the half-court and the entire length of the court, has been.
Westbrook's improvement in those situations have impressed Brooks most.
“The pick-and-roll is the hardest thing to cover,” Brooks said. “There's so many teams offensively that run 50 to 60 pick-and-roll plays. So you have to be ready to guard it every time down court. And I think he's done a great job, along with the big coming out, helping to stop that ball. It's so many good offensive point guards in this league and you have to have some defensive toughness to contain those good guards.”
Brooks also has been pleased with how Westbrook has maintained his offensive aggression while increasing his defensive intensity.
“There's a handful of players that can impact the game on both ends and he's one of them,” Brooks said.
While there are still moments when Westbrook is erratic offensively, he's more than made up for those times with sheer hustle. Overall, though, Westbrook is displaying better pace and it's lead to the Thunder being the top ranked offensive team.
“I think his decision-making has been better,” Collison said. “And I think he's really understanding the tempo of the game, like when we need to run a play and when he need to push it and try to create something himself. And then defensively he's been a lot better. He's just more locked in. Hopefully we can keep it going, him and the rest of us because we've been playing really well.”