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BlazersOG Exclusive Interview With Russell Westbrook

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 23, 2008 by blazersog

After helping the UCLA Bruins advance to back-to-back Final Four appearances, Russell Westbrook joined teammates Kevin Love and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute in declaring early for the 2008 NBA Draft. After deciding to be physical-only participant at the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp, it’s apparent that Westbrook sees himself as a guaranteed top 15 selection. I had a chance to catch up with Westbrook just after he went through his workout at the camp. 

Woody Wommack: You were a late arrival at the camp, electing to come with the physical-only group, what do you think of the atmosphere in Orlando? 

Russell Westbrook: It’s good, I’m excited to be here.

WW: Did you know what to expect coming in because you’ve talked to former teammates who have been through the camp?

RW: A little bit, I’ve been practicing and working out so I kind of expecting what I was going to do. 

WW: How do you think you did in the non-basketball physical testing?

RW: I did alright, but we’ll see what happens.

WW: Do you think some of the activities are overrated, i.e. bench press?

RW: I mean it depends on how teams take it. I just needed to go in there and do my best I could and see from there. 

WW: In early draft projections you’re sort of all over the board, what would think if you fell to pick  No. 13 and the Portland Trailblazers?

RW: That’s alright with me, I’ve worked this hard wherever I go, whatever team takes me I’m just going to go in there and give it my best.

WW: Do you see yourself as a point guard in the NBA?

RW: Yep.

WW: What about the people that say you’re a “combo guard?” 

RW: It doesn’t matter, wherever the team needs me to go, probably at the next level that will be the point. Unless I automatically grow 3-4 inches in the next week or so, but I don’t think that’s going to happen, so most likely I’ll play the point. 

WW: Do you have any workouts scheduled?

RW: Not as of right now (Friday May 30) but we’re going to go back and look at it tonight.

WW: What have you been hearing from teams?

RW: Nothing new really, the same old stuff I’ve been hearing all year. Just lottery, that’s about it.

WW: Is it frustrating sometimes not knowing where you could go?

RW: Oh yeah, I mean you  hear all different types of things, somebody  might tell you this, somebody might tell you that. But you only know on June 26 when your name gets called so I’ve just got to keep working until then.

Woody Wommack is a freelance sports journalist based in Orlando, Fla. He covered the 2008 NBA Pre-Draft camp for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the San Jose Mercury News, the Bloomington Herald-Times and the Spokane Spokesman-Review. To see more of his work visit his journalism blog at http://woody-wommack.blogspot.com

 

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Who is Russell Westbrook?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2008 by blazersog

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?