Russell Westbrook has dunked his way into an elite group of athletic point guards in the NBA. He is among the likes of other PGs such as Steve Francis, Nate Robinson and Allen Iverson who were known for their playmaking quickness and strength to posterize the big guys in dramatic fashion. He is always exciting to watch, and without Kevin Durant on his squad this coming season, it will be interesting to watch how far he can carry the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Russ is the type of player who gives it his all on every single play. One highlight that comes to mind from the 2015-2016 season was in the playoffs against the Golden State Warriors. He went up for a fast-break layup against two defenders, and it rolled around the rim and out. Golden State got the rebound but lackadaisically dribbled the ball up the court. Westbrook recovered from his miss, immediately stole the ball from behind, turned around and laid it back in successfully, and with contact. The guy is all EFFORT and it is extremely fun to watch.
One of the more prevalent issues Russell Westbrook might face this season is one of LEADERSHIP. Some people (including some of his teammates) will say that Westbrook was the leader of the team last year, even with KD on the team. A lot of times when you have two star players they will share the leadership loads, but without KD it will be all Russ. Honestly, he is probably going to fuel his team with his frustrations of Kevin Durant leaving the team. He has more of a reason to make his team better, not just because they need to pick up some slack – this task is personal.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, Russell Westbrook is a great all-around player. He can shoot the three, his driving layup/dunk ratings are way up there, and his defense is always on point. But one thing that stands out the most about his style of play has nothing to do with skill – it’s his ATTITUDE. His mamba-like mentality is something we don’t see very often in today’s NBA. The era of basketball containing that trait has seemed to pass with the retiring of the great Black Mamba himself, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, and even Kevin Garnett. Let’s just say this quality doesn’t go unnoticed. Here’s what Kobe had to say about Russ:
“When I turn on the TV and I watch players play, the player that plays with the same kind of emotion and grit and competitive intensity is Russell [Westbrook],” Bryant said of the All-Star guard. “Russell is going hard. Doesn’t matter who he is playing against, doesn’t matter what the odds are, he’s going, that’s a guy, he is going 110 percent every single time.”
If you’ve got Kobe Bryant admiring your tenacity, you’re doing something right.
Russell Westbrook is one of my favorite players to watch, and I wish him the best of luck in the upcoming season. I’m excited to see his leadership come to fruition, with some ferocious dunks and sideline dancing peppered in there for good measure.