By Mike Baldwin Modified: October 1, 2008 at 7:16 am •  Published: October 1, 2008
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Earl Watson started all 129 games his four seasons at UCLA.

In the NBA, the seven-year veteran point guard primarily was a backup. Until last season.


Whether Watson remains the Thunder's starting pointing guard will revolve around how quickly rookie Russell Westbrook matures.

After averaging a career high 6.8 assists last season in Seattle, Watson will mentor Westbrook, another UCLA product, who was the No. 4 pick in the draft.

"I came in the league with Gary Payton so it will be easy for me to teach him the position, which to me is one of the hardest positions in the NBA,” Watson said.

"The transition from college to the NBA at that position is as much mental as physical. It's an opportunity for me to teach him and get better myself.”

Westbrook, 19, said he's excited to learn the ropes from a fellow Bruin.

Watson, 29, said it will be an advantage they developed a relationship long before the Sonics/Thunder drafted Westbrook in June.

"I've known him since he first stepped foot on (UCLA's) campus,” Watson said. "I'm on campus every day during the summer so we would see each other a lot. It's a natural transition for us. Our communication started two or three years ago.”

Watson grew up in Kansas City but now lives in Los Angeles. He has compiled a solid career 2.5-to-1 assists to turnover ratio. Thunder general manager Sam Presti said Watson is a tremendous competitor who brings the type of defensive toughness the organization values.

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Earl Watson is shown on the screen of a video camera while giving an interview during media day on Monday. Photo By Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

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