Thunder's rookie Russell Westbrook starting to get it

by Darnell Mayberry Published: April 13, 2009
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PORTLAND, Ore. — There is reason to believe the Thunder’s front office isn’t certain that Russell Westbrook can be the team’s point guard of the future.

First, there was the attempted trade for Charlotte’s Raymond Felton back in January. Then there was the reported interest in New York’s Nate Robinson at the mid-February trading deadline. And finally, there was last month’s signing of Shaun Livingston.

Not exactly the finest endorsement of the No. 4 overall pick.

But no matter which direction the front office is leaning on Westbrook, the rookie has shown over the past three games that he’s starting to get it. Only now, after 70-plus games, does Westbrook fully understand what it takes to run an NBA team.

Westbrook’s execution still is erratic. But more than ever, he’s slowing down. He’s setting up his teammates first and looking for his shot second. He’s making the simple play rather than the shaky one.

Westbrook is averaging a season-high seven assists this month, and his assist-to-turnover ratio stands at 1.91, not great but trailing only January’s 2.03 as his highest ratio in any full month.

The first quarters of the past three games are even more indicative of Westbrook’s newfound grasp of the position. Against Milwaukee, he finished the first period with three shot attempts and four assists. Against Charlotte, he had one shot attempt and five assists. And last Friday against Denver, Westbrook attempted two shots while tallying five assists and zero turnovers.

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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ON THE JOB TRAINING
A look at rookie point guard Russell Westbrook’s month-by-month production.

Month Games Pts. Reb. Ast. FG% Ast./To Mpg
October 1 13.0 4.0 4.0 44.4 2.0 22.0
November 17 12.2 3.3 4.1 34.4 1.64 27.2
December 15 15.5 5.1 5.1 46.1 1.27 33.1
January 14 16.5 4.9 5.5 43.7 2.03 34.7
February 12 20.6 6.1 5.9 38.0 1.51 36.6
March 15 15.3 4.9 5.5 39.8 1.39 34.4
April 6 11.0 6.5 7.0 34.4 1.91 29.7
Source: NBA.com


Thunder at Blazers
Time: 9 tonight

Where: Rose Garden, Portland, Ore.

Television: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37)

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM, Sirius 219, XM 233

Live blog: http://www.thundermadness.com

Three things to know
→Oklahoma City is 0-3 when starting the combination of Russell Westbrook, Kyle Weaver, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.

→The Thunder is 7-32 on the road this season and lost the first game at Portland, 106-92.

→The Blazers are 32-7 at home and have won four straight overall.

Probable starters

Thunder (22-58)
Pos. Player Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast
G Russell Westbrook 6-3 15.3 4.9 5.3
G Kyle Weaver 6-6 5.4 2.4 1.8
F Kevin Durant 6-9 25.5 6.5 2.8
F Jeff Green 6-9 16.6 6.7 2.0
C Nenad Krstic 7-0 9.8 5.6 0.6
Blazers (52-28)
G Steve Blake 6-3 11.1 2.4 5.0
G Brandon Roy 6-6 22.9 4.8 5.2
F Nicolas Batum 6-8 5.4 2.8 0.9
F LaMarcus Aldridge 6-11 18.4 7.5 1.9
C Joel Przybilla 7-1 5.5 8.7 0.3

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