Maybe we should lay off Russell Westbrook's shot selection after all.
It appears the always aggressive guard has a much better understanding of which shots he should (and shouldn't) be taking than many of his critics could have imagined.
According to Royce Young of CBSSports.com, Westbrook said:
If somebody goes under, I'll shoot it. Gotta make 'em honest. Obviously they'd rather me do that than drive to the basket, but if they keep doing that, they're gonna learn. ...There's no need to take long 2s. If you're going to take a [long] 2, you might as well take a step back and shoot a 3. ...
It's a better percentage if you just back up a step or if you go in a step instead of taking a long 2. It's a bad shot.
Westbrook's not just talking sense either. He's putting his high-percentage thinking into practice.
This year, he's attempting just 3.2 long twos while letting fly with 4.8 triples per game. Clearly, he's adjusting his game.
Granted, Westbrook's percentages are down from just about everywhere this season. But it's clear that he's got a good idea of which shots he should be taking. As his stroke improves a bit, he'll become an even more efficient offensive player than he already is.
Per Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk.com, "This isn’t rocket science, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that Westbrook gets it. Really, the wonder is why more players don’t."
Of course, Westbrook probably also knows that he's most deadly when he's forcing the ball down defenders' throats.
When you think about it, the combination of Westbrook's constant aggression and thoughtful approach to shot selection is a little strange. The two concepts don't seem like they belong together.
But perhaps this is a newer, more dangerous version of Westbrook that we're seeing. There's definite value in Westbrook closing his eyes and attacking from wherever he gets the ball. It keeps defenses off-balance and afraid.
Adding a more targeted perimeter approach could make Russ even more terrifying.