Russell Westbrook approaching All-Star status

Russell Westbrook appears destined to play in his first career All-Star game this season in Los Angeles. Westbrook grew up near the city and played in college at UCLA.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: December 2, 2010 at 8:50 pm •  Published: November 28, 2010

Russell Westbrook recently was asked by the NBA if he would like to compete in this year's slam dunk contest at All-Star Weekend.

The Oklahoma City Thunder's point guard told the league thanks but no thanks.

But Westbrook said he could change his mind and participate in his first-ever dunk contest.

“One of these years I'm going to be in it,” Westbrook said. “I just don't know if it's going to be this year.”

It might as well be.

At this rate, Westbrook will be in Los Angeles anyway for the big game.

In just his third season, Westbrook has emerged as a top-five point guard. And after the first month of the season, it's beginning to look like Westbrook is a lock for the 2011 All-Star game.

Westbrook has been the Thunder's best player to this point. And it really hasn't been close. Entering Sunday's game at Houston, Westbrook held averages of 23.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 8.3 assists and 2.0 steals, all career-highs. He also has boosted his field-goal percentage from 41.8 percent a year ago to 43.9 percent this season. And his 90 percent foul shooting is a career-best as well, with his 139 makes before Sunday's game at Houston leading all players.

Utah's Deron Williams and New Orleans' Chris Paul, who leads the Hornets to town tonight, are widely considered the league's best two point guards. But both are averaging fewer points and rebounds than Westbrook, while dishing out roughly two more assists per game.

“That's a great accomplishment, just to be in the (All-Star) conversation and know that people are looking at you in that manner,” Westbrook said.

Westbrook, though, should have been in last year's game. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant missed the game due to injury, but NBA Commissioner David Stern snubbed Westbrook when he selected Jason Kidd as Bryant's replacement.

But it might have been a blessing in disguise for Westbrook, who now is likely to play his first All-Star game in his backyard. Westbrook grew up just outside of L.A.

Westbrook talks dunk contest

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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Thunder vs. Hornets

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: Oklahoma City Arena

TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722)

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM

THREE THINGS TO KNOW

* This is the first of four meetings between the two teams.

* The Thunder went 2-1 against the Hornets last season.

* The Hornets are holding opponents to a league-low 91.1 points per game.

PROJECTED STARTERS

Thunder (11-5)

Pos., Player, Ht., Pts., Reb., Ast

G, Russell Westbrook, 6-3, 23.8, 5.2, 8.3

G, Thabo Sefolosha, 6-7, 6.4, 5.1, 1.7

F, Kevin Durant, 6-9, 28.1, 6.9, 2.9

F, Jeff Green, 6-9, 18.3, 6.8, 1.2

C, Nenad Krstic, 7-0, 7.8, 4.9, 0.4

Hornets (12-3)

G, Chris Paul, 6-0, 16.6, 4.8, 10.3

G, Marco Belinelli, 6-5, 12.7, 2.3, 1.2

F, Trevor Ariza, 6-8, 11.1, 5.3, 2.5

F, David West, 6-9, 18.2, 6.5, 1.9

C, Emeka Okafor, 6-10, 9.8, 9.6, 0.3 Note: Stats and record are through Saturday's games.

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