Who is Russell Westbrook?
Last month, John Canzano wrote a blurb on seeing Kevin Pritchard at the UCLA-Oregon game. KP brought with him his all star cast of Blazers assistant GM Tom Penn, scout Michael Born and scout Chad Buchanan. Obviously, the Trailblazer engine was working that night to see if they like a certain player in the UCLA team. We don’t think it was Oregon native Kevin Love, but Love’s combo guard, Russell Westbrook. So what do we know about this UCLA player? Here are some facts about Mr. Westbrook:
The basics: He was born in Long Beach, California and is currently a sophomore at UCLA. He’s 6’3 and a lefty (There’s something about lefty’s that makes you think of greatness i.e. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, The Lone Ranger and the guy who invented the Dyson Vacuum)
The man is averaging 12.4 points per game, almost 5 assists and 4 rebounds. He’s comfortable playing either with the rock in his hand or playing off of it. In terms of shooting, UCLA coach, Ben Howland wanted Westbrook to improve his shot before his sophomore year, and being the obedient young man he was, Westbrook took the summer shooting enough jumpers to make 500 made baskets everyday. Wow! That’s some work ethic coming from a 19 year old.
Here’s what Fan Nation said about Westbrook’s game:
Strengths- Russell is an explosive and athletic combo guard who can get anywhere on the court he wants to. He posesses a lethal first step and a nasty crossover. Although his game is suited more to the 2-Guard position, Westbrook is a good passer and is very unselfish. Gets good lift on his jumpshot and has an excellent mid-range game. Teammates and coaches say he’s a great person to have in the locker room and is very coachable.
Weaknesses- For all of his athletic ability, Westbrook is still pretty undersized for a SG at 6-4. He also tends to struggle when faced with full-court pressure and can become flustered. Free throw shooting might become a problem for him. He shot 55% as a freshman but has improved a lot this year.
As far as his character, he sounds like a Trail Blazer already. We would love to see a player with the aggressiveness that takes him to the basket (not named Brandon Roy). Jarrett Jack has the ability, but finishing is not his strength. If you haven’t seen Westbrook finish, here a little clip:
Analyzing his weakness, his size would be an issue as a two guard, but we really don’t need a 2. We need a point guard who can handle and distribute the ball well. We need somebody who can run the pick and roll with fluidity. If Westbrook struggles with defensive pressure, we might as well stay with Jack who knows our offense and has been proven in the NBA.
Bottom line: Westbrook could be another Monta Ellis, and with our lack of fastbreak points, he would be a breath of fresh air. So what do you think? Would Russell Westbrook be a great addition to this soon-to-be championship team?