On June 28, 2008, the then-Seattle Supersonics decided to draft the top defensive point guard available in the draft with the fourth overall pick. His name was Russell Westbrook and many people were skeptical of the decision.
Many people had the team selecting Kevin Love out of UCLA with their pick based on the reasoning that the Sonics had just secured the future of their wing players and would likely go for a long-term big man.
However, the media was very divided with their grade of the pick and some thought that Oklahoma City made a Portland-like draft bust by going with a player that hasn't proven himself that much offensively.
Russell Westbrook took a lot of criticism during his rookie year after a lot of those in the media wanted to accuse him of not being a "true" point guard even though it was his first time EVER playing the position. Not a lot of people took the time to realize it was his rookie season playing a position he never played before.
Of course he was going to fail a lot that season.
But he also made more improvements in that season than anyone else put in a similar situation.
Halfway through his rookie season, the man who everyone thought the Thunder should have drafted, Kevin Love, was having a very average start to his season. He was being exposed as an undersized power forward, while Russell Westbrook was starting to turn heads.
Coming off the bench, he averaged 4.1 assists, 1.9 steals, and 12.3 points a game while performing amazing defensive.
Even after the season, people wanted to accuse him of being extremely inconsistent, claiming he would never be a true facilitator for the Thunder.
I never quite understood that, I knew that he was extremely raw and pretty inconsistent, but how could people accuse him of not being a true point? During his rookie season he had awesome on-court vision and passed the ball really well.
His only drawback was that he tried to do too much at times and never had a true jump shot on top of non-existent range outside the three-point line.
However, in his rookie season, especially in the playoffs, he has made unbelievable improvements.
Everyone in the area had heard about the hard work he had put in prior to last season, but everyone was still extremely quick to predict him to keep the Thunder back from making any improvements.
Although, he became a lot more patient, developed a free-throw line jumper, and learned to cut down on his mistakes for the most part, his speed was setting him apart. He was a mismatch for the majority of the league and many teams could not contain Westbrook.
He made his plays on the defensive side and made the SportsCenter top 10 with his dunks on a weekly basis. Everyone in LA and Oklahoma will remember the Westbrook dunk on Lamar Odom for a long, long time.
Now with his performance in the FIBA Championships, many people consider his defensive attributes one of the best in the league for a point guard. He has literally shut down everyone he has defended and made explosive plays on the offensive end.
He has turned a lot of heads in the past, but there are still many haters in the media. And he'll definitely look to prove them wrong again this season.
Like Westbrook would say, "Why not?".
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