Russell Westbrook is the most rebellious force of nature the league has probably ever come in contact with. Not in regard to his overall personality or a publicly defiant aura as Demarcus Cousins or Gary Payton.
Westbrook is not considered a bad boy.
It’s the way he plays the point guard position and alters the perception of such a concretely defined label on the court.
Can you recall seeing a player so massively athletic defy aerodynamics while metaphorically erasing the image of what we have known the point to mean to a franchise? Derrick Rose may have kickstarted the revolution, but Westbrook has shot the movement to another level.
Not to say he was the first. There were points of the past that were way ahead of their time. Don’t count on him to be the last.
Here are 10 ways to spot the “Generation X” point guard. Like it or love it, they seem to be forcing their influence into the league with every game, every workout and every victory.
There is no way a point guard can be considered new-age if he does not have the athleticism to at least match that of Rose or Westbrook. Diversity is the spice of life and points are no different.
An elite level of athleticism allows this type of point to be the floor general while sprinting coast-to-coast and use their agility and vertical to evade defenders for a crisp finish around the rim. These are the guards you see with a crazy vertical and ridiculous balance in immediate changes of direction.
These types of point guards are around the rim all too often. The centers, power forwards and generally more physically imposing players come with the territory of being a threat in the paint.
The point has to understand the importance of conditioning and building girth to rival the colliding bodies on the way to the hole.
Just because they are “Generation X” does not completely eradicate the responsibilities of the position they are listed under. A good point guard has to be able to facilitate his team’s offense and this is something that Russell Westbrook is heavily criticized for.
It seems as if people do not understand how critical Westbrook truly is to Oklahoma City’s offense. Facilitating in basketball is not only getting his teammates the ball, but it is making sure that they are in solid spots on the court where they can be most effective.
The threat of Westbrook draws defenses to take pressure off of the Thunder shooters. Supreme facilitation, wouldn’t you say?
Point guards are so criticized for being the primary scorer on a team where there are able scorers available, but analysts and audiences fail to realize how vital their scoring potential may be to their respective franchises.
Take Derrick Rose. If he is not going to be the first option on his team, who is? Luol Deng? Joakim Noah? Carlos Boozer?
What about Russell Westbrook? If he is not there to be of some assistance when Kevin Durant disappears in chunks of a game, who is the aggressor?
All is well and good when the team is winning, but when they lose the blame is placed on who gets more touches or who had the ability to score more points. In reality, these types of guards are firmly implanted into these positions for a reason and one of those reasons is to score.
Where in the rule book were point guards ever supposed to dim in comparison to the men surrounding them?
New-age point guards seem to garner a lot of attention and it comes with a price. They have become the most vital and scrutinized position in the league. This is just the type of attention that comes with performance. When points succeed in getting their teams a victory, they are praised beyond control.
When they fail, there is a hailstorm of trade scenarios and amnesty clause predictions. These types of players become superstar-type personas and refuse to fade to black regardless of the source of attention being hurled in their direction.
They come to accept it and like Westbrook, add intriguing ways to entertain (i.e. the infamous postgame threads).
"The thing about Westbrook is he'll just keep on coming, so it doesn't matter time, score of the game or what just happened the play before. He's going to continue to be relentless,” said Erik Spoelstra, according to CBS Sports, after Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Finals.
He never stops attacking and after Game 4 of the Finals it’s hard to see why he would.
The competitive characteristic in these players forces them to stare down the face of defeat and shrug at it. Maybe it is youth that allows these points to think that no hole is insurmountable. Maybe it’s just sheer will that forces them to push until the clock hits zero.
In any event, you will never see these players giving anything less than 100 percent when they are on the floor, sometimes to their perceptual demise.
Who is at the head of a transition run to the other end of the court?
Speed is the natural ability of “Generation X”, not taught, but perfected by practice. By exposing the inferiority of speed of their opponents, these points are able to be the head of a suffocating monster in transition plays especially.
Basketball is a game of being in the right place at the right time, whether that is where you are already positioned or getting to the other side of the court as fast as possible to contest or score.
Without superior speed, it makes the job that much harder to achieve.
In Oklahoma City, where Kevin Durant’s scoring prowess reigns supreme, who is the most vocal leader in the locker room?
Who is the most aggressive player on the floor?
Who does not believe that there is anything or anyone who can stop him on the floor no matter how many times he’s been stopped?
It’s been thrown to the public for consumption plenty of times during the criticism of Westbrook’s nature of play, that he is the vocal leader of the team. The personality can be riveting in two manners: silent, but deadly or boisterous and imminent.
The respect that counts the most for basketball players is not that of fans outside their arena or the media that analyzes their every move.
The respect that means something is the respect from the home crowd and the respect from the men that sport franchise titles. The adoration that these point guards receive from the players by their side night in and out is one of the most significant telltales of the new age point guard.
While people on the outside looking in are criticizing the role that these types of players carry out, the people with true knowledge of their role favor it.
There is rarely any second-guessing or lack of consideration.
These players can kill or will an entire game with the stroke of their skills. They are normally what fans would call the X-factor.
Unless in Derrick Rose’s case, you are the factor.
Westbrook can shift and sway a game in the way that a lot of other star players in the league cannot, and it is solely because of how he plays.