Russell Westbrook has signed a five-year, $80 million extension with OKC, per Yahoo!. This shows Russell Westbrook's commitment to the team and OKC's financial commitment to its assets. Everything has come full circle now. Kevin Durant got paid, Kendrick Perkins cashed in too. Russell Westbrook is undoubtedly worth it. He's quick, dynamic on both ends and he's only 23.
Will OKC regret paying Russell Westbrook? No. He's on his way to being an All-Star and even if that's not the case, again he's only 23. Sam Presti and the Thunder organization can continue to evaluate Russell Westbrook. If he looks to be off his game, the Thunder aren't pressed to give him another boat load of money.
Russell Westbrook is built to get another max deal. He really hasn't tapped into his potential yet. Russell Westbrook still lets emotions drain some of the energy he could put into his game. Russell Westbrook without temper tantrums? That's a Russell Westbrook who can focus enough to nail that jump shot. That's a Russell Westbrook who can see a cutting Nick Collison. That, my friends, is when Russell Westbrook can be evaluated.
Now that Russell Westbrook has his financial game intact, what can he change on the court? His emotional poise, jump shot consistency and one-on-one defense.
Russell Westbrook is a young, irritable player. He gets into guys, argues and doesn't like when things go wrong. That's understandable. If I was a young point guard with crazy skills and the "dream" life I might get mad too. What's wrong with a little anger? It zaps away energy that could be used to play! Sure, Russell Westbrook is young, maybe he has tons of energy. Still, at any point when playing ball has it ever made sense to waste energy? That's why you don't see guys playing full court press when down 20 with 10 seconds to go.
Russell Westbrook has become a better jump shooter. He hasn't improved as much as Derrick Rose has, but what he's done is admirable. The key is to keep pushing the envelope. Develop the mid-range game more. Drain all J's taken off the dribble. Russell Westbrook can't be satisfied with where his shot is. He's got to harness the motivation to nail the next ten jumpers he's going to take.
Young, athletic PG's have a tendency to gamble on steals rather than play honest defense. Russell Westbrook is a darn good defender, but not getting caught gambling on D is a constant worry. Thunder coach Scott Brooks and his teammates must continually emphasize sound, honest defense. Not that it's a huge problem with Russell Westbrook, it's just something to monitor.
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