With the shocking and unexpected move of Kevin Durant to join the Goldern State Warriors, Russell Westbrook has been handed the reigns to be the undisputed leader and best player on the Oklahoma City Thunder. But many people have actually seen Westbrook as the best player in town, even when Durant was here. This article will take a look at the life and career of Russell Westbrook so you can get a better idea of the player who I believe will turn some heads with his play this upcoming NBA season.
After being a talented player in high school, Westbrook was shocked to not receive much interest from top programs, until UCLA joined the party late and offered him a scholarship. In his freshman year he was used mainly as a sparkplug and defensive player off the bench, but still helped the team make the final four. In his sophomore year and after an injury to starter Darren Collison, Westbrook took on the starting role.
He played very well, leading the team to the final four once again and also winning the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year. As a result of his good play and leadership, we was selected 4th overally by the Seattle Supersonics in the 2008 NBA Draft, only a few days before they officially moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. His rookie year showed he was an extremely versatile player who could score, pass, rebound and play defense and he was even the first rookie in the NBA to record a triple double since Chris Paul did so a few years prior.
However, it was his sophomore year (his first year as a starter as well), in which Westbrook showed fans and the NBA alike that he was a truly talented player. He improved all of his stats and helped the Thunder more than double their wins. But still, he was in the shadow of Kevin Durant. However in the last two seasons (2014-15 and 2015-16) Westbrook showed flashes of brilliance which led many to believe he may actually be better than Durant.
While Durant is a clearly superior scorer, and one of the best in the league, Westbrook is arguably a more complete player. He can pass, shoot, drive to the net unlike anyone else, defend and more. His complete play as a versatile player was put in full effect during a string of games in the 2014-15 season. During a period of 8 games near the end of the season, Westbrook had 6 triple doubles, including four straight, which is the most since Michal Jordan also recorded 4 in a row back in 1989.
And he only continued this dominance last year as he averaged a fantastic 23.5 ppg, 10.4 apg and 7.8 rpg, meaning he was barely two rebounds away from averaging a triple double. In that season, Westbrook had an astounding 18 triple doubles, which is tied for the most of all time with Magic Johnson. So as you can see, Westbrook is one of the most complete players in the NBA today and I look forward to seeing what he can do as the focal point of a franchise.