Though I think it’s often an abject exercise, I’ve been trying to find a current NBA template for Westbrook. Last night, I might’ve found one in Rajon Rondo. Like Rondo, Westbrook has great length [though Westbrook starts with two extra inches] and athleticism. He’s also lightning quick off the dribble, and plays  persistent on-ball defense.

With regard to his ability to play the point, one of my favorite things about Westbrook’s game log is that, after the first of March, Westbrook collected three turnovers or greater in only one game – in the regional semis to Western Kentucky. His entire game was uncharacteristically frenetic that night, though he grabbed 11 boards – six of them on the offensive glass. Westbrook led the 07-08 UCLA team in assists. But what impressed me over the course of UCLA’s season was the quality of Westbrook’s assists. It might very well be a function of playing together over the course of a season, but Westbrook demonstrated an ability to get his big men the ball. In their blowout of Cal at Pauley toward the end of the season, Westbrook managed to find Luc Richard Mbah a Moute three times on the block for easy shots – once in a beautiful transition series, where Westbrook does some of his best work. While it may be pollyannaish to suppose a guard can translate good sense and patience into an NBA-caliber brand of point guardhood, Westbrook displays the instincts to read the court and move the ball where it can best help his offense.

Defensively, I’m not sure there’s a better collegiate guard in the nation. Can he pressure the ball? About as well as anyone. But he also defends the pick-and-roll with a pro-style proficiency and confidence. He can squirrel around screens, give a big man pause off the switch, and trap with the best of them. Moreover, he knows exactly when to employ each tactic.




For the Clippers sake, I’d rank Westbrook ahead of Gordon. Where he stands in relation to Bayless or Mayo is a tougher call. But if Russell Westbrook logs 1,700 minutes in the Mike Dunleavy’s backcourt next season, you’d hear no complaints from Clipperblog.