BEST PLAYER: When Russell Westbrook was in Orlando last summer, he was mostly an afterthought as scouts, coaches, media and even players clamored to see 2008's top pick, Derrick Rose, square off against No. 2 pick Michael Beasley.
This summer, however, Westbrook had the stage all to himself with Rose not playing summer ball and Miami not fielding a team. And Westbrook proved himself to be far and away the best player in Orlando.
Westbrook led all players in both scoring (22.3 ppg) and assists (7.8), using his bulbous shoulders to dominate other smaller, younger point guards. As a sign of his ability to get just about anywhere he wanted on the court, Westbrook had the second-most free throw attempts of the week (40 attempts, 34 makes). He played under control for the most part, dispelling some of the questions about his ability to set up others with his passing.
Westbrook, who rested on Friday but will play again next week in the Vegas Summer League, said he's much more comfortable now after a rookie season that taught him he has to balance his aggressiveness with patience.
"I'm better at picking and choosing my spots now,'' Westbrook said. "It helps me out by slowing down and seeing all of the things that I missed last year. Things have slowed down for me and I'm seeing the game so much better now.''
Watching that Thunder team with RW, Durant and Harden is going to be some fun. Folks at OKC are very lucky to be able to follow this kind of combination of NBA talent so early in their franchise history.
Oh since this post is about RW here is yet another video featuring the king of YouTube featuring his days as a Ben Ball warrior:
Russell Westbrook UCLA Mix (via TonyStarkCEO)
It's going to be a while we see another talent like him on the floor. I know his name always gets brought up when talking about the 2G spot at UCLA. But just like AA, whoever wants to match up his accomplishments at UCLA would have to start with a total commitment to Howland's passion for defense and an all out, no fear aggression on defense.
Hopefully we will see flashes of that at more consistent level from the 2 spot in Howlandwood.