Now that Russell Westbrook has proved his legitimacy as an NBA point guard, the Thunder's third-year man is now working on defining what kind of floor leader he'll be.
Finding a balance between barking instructions, providing gentle advice and leading by example is Westbrook's latest challenge. It's a significant objective that could soon shape how smooth the Thunder is offensively.
"I think each year it's improved," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks of Westbrook's leadership. "It probably still needs to take another step. And we're looking for that this year. It's hard to lead as a first- or second-year player. You just have to gain that respect. But he's gained the respect of his teammates and coaches."
This season, we could see Westbrook shouting at his teammates more often. But teammates say that won't necessarily be a bad thing.
"You're going to need a point guard that's going to yell at you a little bit and tell you where to go and demand a little bit from you," said Kevin Durant. "He's great at letting everybody know where we need to be and what we need to do to get better. He's growing every day, and it's a joy to watch."
In his rookie season, Westbrook hardly ever shouted instructions. Durant recalled how Westbrook relied on pointing and how Westbrook seemed shy. It wasn't until last year that Westbrook felt comfortable being more verbally assertive with teammates.
"I figured if I'm going to be here, I've got to be able to run the team and be able talk to everybody and communicate with other people," Westbrook said.
Brooks has demanded more vocal leadership from Westbrook.
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