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Early doubts about Tony Parker are similar to those of Russell Westbrook

The Spurs' Parker developed one of the top point guards in the NBA — and the Thunder's Westbrook is following in those footsteps.
by Jenni Carlson Published: May 23, 2012

Questions about the young point guard swirled around the basketball world.

Did he have the court vision to play the point? Was he too much of a scorer and not enough of a passer? Could he mesh with his superstar teammate?

After more than a decade, Tony Parker sure has answered those questions.

Ironic, isn't it, that the questions asked about the Spurs point guard early in his NBA career have been some of the very same ones asked time and again about Russell Westbrook?

As Parker's Spurs and Westbrook's Thunder prepare to square off in the Western Conference Finals, much will be made of this point guard matchup. And rightfully so. After the way the matchup went during the regular season, the series could very well turn on it.

When Westbrook held Parker to four points in the teams' first meeting this season, the Thunder won. But when, Parker went for a season-high 42 points followed by 25 points when next they squared off, the Spurs won.

This will be a defining matchup.

Not only in the series but also for Westbrook.

Those questions about whether he could play the point, about whether he was too much of a scorer, about whether he could mesh with Kevin Durant were never asked more frequently than during last year's playoffs. You couldn't turn around without this pundit or that prognosticator sounding off about Westbrook.

But so far in these playoffs, the doubts have died down.

Westbrook is averaging 24.1 points in the first two rounds, third best among players whose teams are still alive. What's even better, though, is that his shooting percentage is way up from last year's playoffs while his turnovers are way down. A year ago, he shot 39.4 percent from the floor and committed 4.6 turnovers a game. This year, 47.2 percent and 1.6 turnovers.

“He's been really, really efficient in his moves and his shots,” Durant said. “Not to say that he's made every shot, but every shot I think he's taken has been a good shot.”

And we haven't even talked about his defense yet. The job he did shutting down Mavs sharpshooter Jason Terry in the first round was stellar. He was every bit as good on whatever Laker the coaches stuck him on in the second round.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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