Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook profile
Drafted #4 in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Sonics
RCSI: 114 (2006)
Height: 6'3" (191 cm)
Weight: 192 lbs (87 kg)
Position: PG
High School: Leuzinger High School (California)
Hometown: Hawthorne, CA
College: UCLA
Current Team: Clippers
Win - Loss: 53 - 35
Russell Westbrook 2011 Lockout Highlights - Oklahoma City


Orlando Summer League, Day Two

Jonathan Givony
Jonathan Givony
Jul 09, 2008, 03:00 pm
Russell Westbrook again had a very eye opening performance, only reiterating everything we said about him yesterday while looking even more comfortable trying new things. He drilled a 3-pointer when his defender went underneath a screen, had a ridiculous offensive rebound putback dunk, posted up before drilling a turnaround jumper, and was always in attack mode looking for spots to blow by his man (especially in transition) and/or pull-up off the dribble—making 8 of 10 shots in just 24 minutes. Westbrook looked for his teammates as well and did a good job finding them unselfishly. Defensively he was outstanding as usual, looking super active getting his hands on loose balls and just smothering opponents with his length and strength. His athleticism is just a marvel to take in in person, and there are very few people you’ll find in this gym that aren’t almost completely in love with his skill-set at this point. Most of the European executives who did not follow college basketball very closely keep wondering how in the world Derrick Rose was drafted ahead of Westbrook solely based off what they are seeing here. That’s less a knock on Rose and more an indication of just how impressive Westbrook has been thus far. We’re really interested to see how Westbrook will look once the regular season will start.

Orlando Summer League, Day One

Jonathan Givony
Jonathan Givony
Jul 08, 2008, 12:54 pm
All things considered (first summer league game, playing a brand new position, unfamiliar teammates/environment), this was a very successful outing for #4 draft pick Russell Westbrook. His GM Sam Presti took a little bit of heat for drafting him so early, but from the very small snippet of information we were about to gather about Westbrook, he seems to be backing him up thus far.

Westbrook started off the game a bit tentatively, looking like he was thinking very hard about how to get his team into the offense. As the game wore on, though, he came out of his shell, and really started to show all the different things that made him such a tantalizing collegiate prospect, as well as some new wrinkles that we may not have been able to see in his minimal role at UCLA.

Westbrook was nearly impossible to keep out of the lane when he put his mind to it. His terrific first step, combined with his nose for the basket and surprisingly effective crossover to get his man off-balance got him into the paint time after time, allowing him to show off the breathtaking leaping ability finishing above the rim that we’ve all come to know and love over the last season.

He showed a good demeanor on the floor, knowing when to try and make things happen individually and when to settle in and get others involved, even if it’s clear that he’s no finished product as far as his playmaking skills are concerned.

Westbrook was fairly effective running the pick and roll (surveying the options nicely and finding open teammates on the drive and dish), and generally didn’t seem to have much of an issue getting his team into their offense once he settled in. He wasn’t immune to taking some bad shots from time to time, but you certainly could have expected a lot worse all things considered. He hit one NBA 3-pointer even (but bricked other shots and some free throws) and also played his typical fantastic defense, being a menace on the floor with his athleticism, but smart and active enough to take advantage of it effectively.

At the end of the day, this performance might not tell us all that much about how ready Westbrook is to come in and run an NBA offense from day one, but it definitely highlighted his strengths and showed that “Oklahoma City” has a lot to look forward to.

NCAA Weekly Performers, 3/4/08-- Part One

Jonathan Givony
Jonathan Givony
Joseph Treutlein
Joseph Treutlein
Joey Whelan
Joey Whelan
Mar 05, 2008, 03:56 am
There might not be a more improved player in the country over the last year or two than UCLA sophomore guard Russell Westbrook. Considered a mid-major recruit leading into his senior year of high school, drawing scholarship offers from schools such as San Diego, Wyoming, Creighton and Kent State, Westbrook benefited from a late growth spurt that saw him shoot up from just 5-10 to 6-3 late in his prep career, and is now a key cog on a Final Four contending team and one of the hottest draft prospects in the country as of late. Obviously a late bloomer, Westbrook remains a raw prospect as far as his skill-level is concerned, but has just about as much upside to continue to improve as any guard in the NCAA not named Derrick Rose.

Physically, Westbrook is especially impressive, despite his tweener status. He has solid size at 6-3, an excellent wingspan, and huge hands, and is one of the most explosive players you’ll find anywhere in the country. Featuring an outstanding first step and terrific strength once in the lane, Westbrook’s ability to elevate off the floor has made his highlight reels the stuff of Youtube legend.

Offensively, Westbrook’s biggest source of production (nearly 30% of his offense) curiously comes in transition. He plays a fairly small role in UCLA’s half-court offense (only 8% of his offense comes from either pick and roll or isolation plays) , mostly as a complimentary piece—moving off the ball trying to find holes in the defense to get to the rim with his tremendous strength and leaping ability, or shooting wide open jumpers. It’s pretty clear when breaking down his footage that he lacks quite a bit of polish on this end of the floor, even if he is extremely effective at the few things he does well.

Westbrook’s ball-handling skills are fairly limited, as he has the ability the beat players off the dribble with his tremendous first step going left or right, and is solid getting to the rim in a straight line, but he struggles when trying to do much more than that. He lacks the advanced dribbling skills needed to create his own shot and change directions sharply in the half-court (for example at the end of a shot clock), and thus often looks a bit out of control when dribbling in traffic, forcing him to flip up some awkward shots at the rim. It’s not uncommon to see him called for various violations in the rare occasion that he tries to go out and make something happen on his own, be it traveling calls, palming or offensive fouls.

As far as his jump-shot is concerned, Westbrook is mostly a catch and shoot player, hitting only 18 3-pointers on the season (on a 34.6% clip), usually on open looks, in rhythm and with his feet set. His release is not the quickest or most fluid around, and he lacks accuracy when rushed or forced to shoot off the dribble. He has the potential to improve here, but his touch at the moment looks fairly average. In terms of his mid-range game, Westbrook doesn’t show great polish here either, as his shot is a bit flat, and he doesn’t always take advantage of his terrific leaping ability to create separation from his defender with his pull-up jumper. He seems to be showing more and more sparks as the season moves on here, though.

To Westbrook’s credit, these flaws are not always very noticeable, as he is a very smart player who knows his limitations and has no problem fitting in and being just another cog in UCLA’s very efficient offense. He plays within himself, rarely forcing the issue, and thus has done a very good job of not exposing his weaknesses within his team’s system. The fact that he has other highly efficient and extremely unselfish teammates like Kevin Love, Darren Collison and Josh Shipp has also helped him a great deal.

As a point guard, Westbrook is not an instinctive playmaker, but is very much capable of bringing the ball up the floor and getting his team into its offense. He is smart, patient, and highly unselfish, and possesses the court vision needed to find the open man without hesitation, picking up quite a few assists just by getting the ball to the right place in UCLA’s half-court sets. He lacks some creativity when it comes to improvising outside of his team’s offense, though, and it’s here that his inexperience running the point guard position, along with his average ball-handling skills, seem to show the most. It should be noted that despite his very high assist totals (4.6 per game on the season, compared with just 2.7 turnovers), when taking into account only the most competitive games UCLA was involved with (the eleven which finished within a 10 point margin), his assists per game drop to 3.2, while his turnovers remain at 2.7.

Defensively, Westbrook is nothing short of outstanding, as evidenced by the phenomenal work he did locking down the three top scoring guards in the Pac-10 this season, O.J. Mayo, Jerryd Bayless, and James Harden. He is long, strong and very fundamentally sound, getting into a terrific defensive stance on every possession, moving his feet incredibly well, and being absolutely tenacious getting after his matchup. His wingspan, combined with his huge hands and outstanding anticipation skills make him a terror in the passing lanes, and this is a big factor why he spends so much time in transition offensively.

Westbrook is going to have a very difficult decision to make at the end of this season, as there is a tremendous amount of NBA draft hype surrounding him at the moment—to the point that he might struggle trying to live up to it considering the still-early stage of development he’s in. It’s clear that he could use another season at UCLA to refine his point guard skills, but he runs the risk of having many of his warts exposed once people start breaking down his game and notice his not-so-obvious limitations. UCLA also has two and a half McDonald’s All-American guards (Jrue Holiday, Malcolm Lee and Jerime Anderson) coming in next season, which further complicates his decision.

It’s still not quite clear what position Westbrook will play in the NBA, even if it could probably be said that his upside is so high that he can just figure that out down the road. He lacks significant experience at the point guard position, and probably isn’t a good enough shooter/ball-handler/shot-creator to be considered a starting caliber shooting guard, particularly since he lacks size for the position at 6-3. Considering his physical tools, intangibles and how much he’s improved over the past two years, though, a lot of teams would probably have a hard time passing him up in the 10-20 range, since he truly has home run potential if he can improve on his weaknesses in time. He might ideally be suited coming off the bench playing a Leandro Barbosa type role, which would still be worthy of a very high pick.

At the end of the day, a lot will depend on how well he plays in the NCAA tournament. If he has some big games on the way to the Final Four, he might not have a choice but to come out. Right now, though, we’re hearing that it’s just as likely that he stays.

NCAA Weekly Performers, 1/4/08-- Part Two

Rodger Bohn
Rodger Bohn
Jonathan Givony
Jonathan Givony
Joseph Treutlein
Joseph Treutlein
Jan 05, 2008, 03:10 am
While UCLA has remained one of the nation’s truly elite programs over the last few years, they received a major surprise in the form of guard Russell Westbrook this season. Westbrook, who was considered a mid-major recruit until late in his senior season of high school, has established himself as not only a formidable backup to Darren Collison, but as a legitimate NBA prospect so far in his sophomore campaign.

At 6’3 and 190 pounds, Westbrook fits the mold size wise for a point guard in the NBA. Being blessed with a sturdy frame and long arms only adds to the intriguing physical package that he possesses. The California native owns nice explosiveness and leaping ability to add to his body, leaving little more to ask for athletically out of a potential point guard prospect.

Coming off of the bench this season, Westbrook has been incredibly productive, especially in terms of his playmaking. He is averaging 5.7 assists while playing off of the ball for the most part, leaving one to ponder what he could be able to do with the ball in his hands for the entire game. His court vision isn’t spectacular by any stretch, but he does a good job playing within UCLA’s system, and finding the many weapons he has around him within their set offense. The explosiveness that he possesses directly translates into his ability to get to the rim, where he has shown no problem converting in transition when presented with the opportunity. In traffic he seems to struggle a bit, though, as he’s often out of control by the time he reaches the basket. Even Westbrook’s jump-shot, which was a bit erratic, last season has been consistent this time around, shown by his 51% accuracy from the field and 45% shooting from the land of three, although on an extremely limited number of attempts, on mostly wide open shots.

On the defensive end, all of the raw tools are there for Westbrook to be an excellent defensive player at the next level. His long arms, nice lateral quickness, and strong body allow him to keep in front of most opposing guards that he goes against in the PAC-10. This is quite a feat, given that the PAC-10 is the strongest conference in the nation this season and calls itself home to at least 10 future first round draft picks. Westbrook does a great job of anticipating steals and getting in the passing lanes, and picks up quite a few extra possessions for his team by coming up with deflections and getting out in transition, where he excels.

Westbrook is still a bit of an unproven commodity, as UCLA’s first 14 games have served as his first real opportunity to show his skills on center stage. His ability (or inability) to keep up his stellar play will play a large part of how he is viewed in the eyes of NBA personnel. In addition the sophomore could use quite a bit more experience playing point guard at a high level, as he was more of a shooting guard at the prep level and could definitely benefit from tightening up his handle. He struggles to create his own shot on a consistent basis, and often looks completely out of control when forced to weave in and out of traffic by the time he gets to the hoop. UCLA’s system is doing a magnificent job of masking his weaknesses, since when you break down his skill-set individually, it’s quite clear that he has a lot of holes to his game. In addition to his poor ball-handling skills, his mid-range game is fairly poor, and he avoids using his left hand as much as possible. His jumper is still a bit of a question mark, and getting his range out to the NBA 3-point line will obviously take considerable work.

Westbrook is going to be faced with an interesting decision at the end of the season, given that UCLA is bringing in three national top 50 recruits all capable of playing point guard (Jrue Holiday, Jerime Anderson, and Malcolm Lee). He could certainly use another year (or even two) of college basketball to gain more experience at the point guard position, but is in a position that many other draft prospects are faced with in terms of highly touted players coming in who play the same slot. His superior athleticism could raise some eyebrows, but his skill-level probably isn’t high enough at this point to warrant coming out early. Any way that you look at it however, Westbrook’s play this year has put him on the radar of most NBA personnel and will allow him to receive more attention on the national level.

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