Oklahoma City Thunder: 3 Ways Russell Westbrook Has Improved This Season

Bradlee RossCorrespondent IIApril 7, 2012

Oklahoma City Thunder: 3 Ways Russell Westbrook Has Improved This Season

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    Russell Westbrook has become a recent topic of conversation after tearing it up for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The reason is that he has become a much better individual player this season.

    Despite the derision he receives from many different places, especially from ESPN First Take's Skip Bayless, Westbrook is actually playing the best basketball of his career. Although many have taken notice and even included him in the MVP discussion, many still think he hurts the Thunder more than helps.

    Although he isn't a true pure point guard, Westbrook is vital to the success of the young team. Many say that he is a 2 guard, and they are right. To be honest, he is really the starting point and shooting guard for the team, especially as far as scoring and distributing go.

    That is something that is held against him, even though it isn't anywhere near his fault. He plays where his team needs him, and this year he is doing it better than ever.

    Here are three ways he has improved his game this season.

Scoring

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    Right now, Russell Westbrook is scoring more points per game than he ever has in his career. In fact, he's current fifth in the league in scoring per game behind Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kevin Love.

    Westbrook has greatly improved his outside jumper and has become a threat to score from literally anywhere on the floor.

    He was already tremendous driving into the lane, and now teams can't just pack it in because he'll kill you from outside. He is building an offensive game that few others in the league can rival.

Scoring Efficiency

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    Based on the jump in scoring (from 21.9 to 24.4 since last season), the average fan might assume that Russell Westbrook is taking more shots and hurting his team by monopolizing the ball, pushing his shooting percentage down.

    The truth is that while Westbrook is shooting the most shots he ever has, he is also making a larger percentage of his shots than ever. Of the four guys that are ahead of him points per game, only LeBron James and Kevin Durant shoot a higher percentage from the field.

    Westbrook is shooting 47 percent from the field, which is an impressive percentage considering how often he shoots. He has also managed to maintain his three-point and free-throw shooting averages.

Learning to Take over Games

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    Russell Westbrook is unquestionably a superstar, and superstars take over games. Westbrook may share the court with Kevin Durant, but that doesn't mean that the Oklahoma City Thunder don't need him to take over games sometimes too.

    This season, he has shown that he has learned how to do that. In the month of February, Westbrook averaged 26.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game while shooting at nearly 48 percent from the field. In March, he averaged 26.6 points per game and 5.5 assists per game and shot nearly 50 percent from the field.

    Those are superstar numbers of a guy who has been taking over games and dominating opponents.