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Criticism and stardom for Thunder’s Westbrook
Question of the Day
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Russell Westbrook has made a quick rise from turnover-prone rookie to NBA All-Star.
He’s also learned that no matter what he does, he can’t make everyone happy.
“This time of the year, it’s a tough job. You kind of take the good with the bad,” Westbrook said. “Sometimes, people like when you score. Sometimes they don’t like when you score. Sometimes they like when you pass. So, you’ve got to just play.”
In the playoffs, Westbrook has drawn criticism for taking more shots than NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant in each of Oklahoma City’s two playoff losses. He also had seven turnovers in the Thunder’s Game 1 loss against the Grizzlies.
The series is now knotted 1-1 headed into Saturday’s Game 3 at Memphis.
“It’s amazing. With Russell, we analyze every possession. I do that myself when we break down the film,” Brooks said Wednesday during a break in the series. “But it seems like everybody’s breaking down the film _ like in my meetings or in my head.”
Brooks, a former NBA point guard, sees Westbrook’s rise as more of a long-term endeavor. Westbrook didn’t even play the point during his two seasons at UCLA, but made the switch after he was drafted fourth overall in 2008.
He took over as the starting point guard on a team that was on pace for the worst record in NBA history and ended up leading the league in turnovers, only to develop within two years into an All-Star and the Thunder’s go-to guy behind Durant.
“It’s not fair to him,” Brooks said. “It’s really not fair to him. … He gets criticized for every bad game. He’s not the only player that has a bad game. He’s not going to be the only player in the future that has bad games.
“The only thing that I can say about that: Russell knows what he needs to do, and we talk to him and he’s coachable and he wants to get better. He controls his improvement.”
Westbrook has come to understand the new place he occupies in the basketball world. Beyond his first All-Star selection this season, he was also a contributor on the U.S. team that won the world championship last summer.
So, there is a certain expectation that he’ll perform each time he steps on the floor.
“That comes along with becoming a good player in this league. Everybody wants you to do everything,” Westbrook said. “I’m trying my hardest to be able to get my teammates the ball and at the same time be aggressive.”
Westbrook averaged 21.9 points and 8.2 assists during the regular season. His scoring is up about three points while he’s averaging two fewer assists during the postseason, feeding the assertion that he’s trying to do more instead of unselfishly relying on his teammates.
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
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