"It’s different,” Westbrook admitted. "You got to come in and get the flow of the game going right and get everybody involved. I’ve been trying to work and eventually get (the starting job). But now it’s here, so I’ve just got to play my game and continue to play the way I’ve been playing.”
Brooks has put Westbrook in a good position. Including Saturday’s inaugural start, Westbrook’s first six head-to-head matchups are against Memphis’ Mike Conley (twice), Charlotte’s Raymond Felton, Orlando’s Jameer Nelson, Miami’s Mario Chalmers and Golden State’s Jamal Crawford. Only Chalmers, a rookie, has a reputation for defense.
Westbrook’s first true tests won’t come until a back-to-back set on Dec. 13 and 14 against Dallas’ Jason Kidd and San Antonio’s Tony Parker.
"We want to see how he responds to different roles,” Brooks said. "We feel that he brings a lot of energy and a lot of intensity, and we’ve liked what he’s done coming off the bench. But (the starter) is definitely a role that, as a point guard, you are the leader on the floor and you are an extension of the coach. He has to embrace that role.”
We know Westbrook will play hard. We’re about to find out if he’s ready to play well.