Blogtable: Finding Westbrook’s place

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: Kobe’s production | Westbrook’s place | Knicks in the playoffs



VIDEO: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook remain one of the most formidable 1-2 punches in the league.

> Scott Brooks says Russell Westbrook is the best point guard in the NBA. We’re wondering if Westbrook should play 2 guard instead. What’s your thinking?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: If Scott Brooks, former professional point guard by trade, considers Russell Westbrook to be a point guard, that’s good enough for me. What’s in a name, The Bard asked. That which we call a Rose (Derrick) by any other name would smell as sweet (if healthy). Same goes for Westbrook. No need to get hung up on position designation. The key is for Westbrook to complement Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka in the Thunder lineup and for Brooks to build his backcourt to complement his irrepressibly athletic ball dominator. Time to move on from the John Stockton archetype, at least in this guy’s case.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: With all of the great point guards currently in the NBA, who is the best is a classic barstool question that can have many different and valid answers. Russell Westbrook, with all of his flaws, is the correct one on any given night. No, he’ll never be linked with John Stockton as a classic set-up man or Chris Paul as an overall floor general, but the Thunder have been one of the league’s elite teams with him at the point. It seems to me that if you moved him to the 2 spot, you’d actually be turning him loose to shoot even more and eliminating a raw, physical mismatch that he has over most other point guards. I’m also wondering why anyone wants to change one of the two main cogs on a Thunder team that has a .688 winning percentage over the past five seasons?

Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Why would you play the, ahem, best point guard in the league at shooting guard? No. I’m leaving Westbrook right where he is. Westbrook is an All-Star, the guy does things no one else can do. OK, so some of what he does also makes you want to pull your hair out. He mentioned Monday that incorporating more player and ball movement into the offense is a high priority and suggested we might see something new from the Thunder in that regard. So we’ll see. But starting Reggie Jackson at the point and Westbrook at the 2 doesn’t make this team better. Westbrook averaged 21.8 ppg and 6.9 apg after all those surgeries last year. In the playoffs he averaged 26.7 ppg, 8.1 apg and 7.3 rpg. Anyone else does that and we’re calling him the best point guard in the league.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: His career best for 3-point percentage is 33 percent and he’s been better than 44 percent overall twice in six seasons. So there’s that. Plus, he is uniquely effective because he is a PG with superior athleticism and better size than most on the other side of the matchup. Move Westbrook to the other backcourt spot and suddenly the Thunder have a small backdoor, a shooting guard who can’t spot up and concerns about not maximizing your second-best player. The only reason it should be discussed is if OKC wants to play Westbrook and Reggie Jackson. Otherwise, no go.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: He’s certainly the most talented point guard in the league and one of the league’s most dangerous offensive players, period. Westbrook without the ball in his hands is not the same Westbrook. There are possessions — sometimes when the game is on the line — when he needs to be more of a true point guard, but if you live by the Russ, you have to sometimes die by the Russ. It’s not like you can flip a switch in his head.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Of course, Scott Brooks is campaigning for Russ Westbrook, as any coach worth his whistle should. And he can make a great argument for the force of nature that Westbrook has become, warts and all. He doesn’t own the No. 1 spot on my list. That spot still belongs to Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers. But Westbrook is easily in my top five. My bigger issue is  with this mysterious “we” who are contemplating whether or not Westbrook should play the 2? That’s like playing a high-risk, high-reward dual threat NFL quarterback at wide receiver. Makes no sense to me!

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Russell Westbrook might be the most *talented* point guard in the NBA. I mean, his athleticism at the position is really unparalleled, both in the NBA today and historically. His combination of size and speed and explosiveness render him almost unstoppable in the open court. But that incredible package of skills also seems to dazzle Westbrook at times, and he doesn’t fully know how to consistently utilize those gifts in such a way as to lead the Thunder to titles. Westbrook is an amazing talent, but that doesn’t make him the best point guard in the NBA. Because that person’s name is Chris Paul.

Akshay Manwani, NBA India: I think Westbrook stays where he is. Look at Kevin Durant’s numbers — the current league MVP has four scoring titles, with Westbrook playing point-guard. Also, consider this, Westbrook averaged 8.1 apg in the 2014 postseason, only behind Chris Paul and Stephen Curry, both of whose teams did not proceed beyond the second round. How much better can Westbrook or anyone else at point-guard do? Moreover, with Westbrook playing the 2-spot, how often is he going to get the ball, with Durant definitely being OKC’s number one offensive option. OKC’s problems against the NBA’s best remains an overdependence on Durant and Westbrook for their scoring. They need to address that rather than tinker with Westbrook’s position.

Adriano Albuquerque, NBA Brasil: When it comes to ranking point guards, Chris Paul is 1A and Russell is 1B in my book. I think playing him at the 2 is nonsense. Even if you add a another point guard, that’s just gonna cut into the touches and times he and Durant get to bring the ball upcourt. I do like two point guard sets and think Russ could excel in them, but only if you don’t have a point-forward type player like KD. Free Westbrook!

Marcelo Nogueira, NBA Argentina: These days there’s not a huge difference between a point guard and a shooting guard. It depends on the opponent and certain moments during the game, but Russell can play either position.

48 Comments

  1. Unkaned says:

    Stupid question. I do like Beverly, and he and Russell played better than Russell and any other shooting guard they had. But if you upgraded the shooting guard spot with a taller, decent shooter, there we be no remotely-intelligent reason to move Russ off the point. While he’s not QUITE as slick as a couple other point guards, he’s large, muscular, can handle a shooting guard on defense when he needs to, and has the whole package. At times, playing him at the four-spot with Beverly makes sense. But only against certain match-ups. This silly debate began only because Thunder didn’t have a really good shooting guard last year, and the Beverly-Westbrook tandem worked better. But not as a long-term project. Beverly’s a fine, quick guard, and perhaps should start on many teams. But in the long run, ad poor idea to move Westbrook off the point. Besides, this is not even the Thunder’s single question or problem: They need a Center. Period. Too bad they didn’t land Gasol. Bit why focus on this Westbrook nonsense? Gotta move on..

  2. KDfan says:

    Russ is a new age PG. All he has to do is control his turnovers, which will entail slowing down the game at appropriate moments. Because of the tremendous athleticism and explosiveness that Russ possesses, he is taking time to mature as a PG. But how do you ask a great player to make a significant change in the way he plays? The other 3 on the floor (besides KD and Russ) should provide more offensive production, especially come playoff time. But the preparation for that has to start in the regular season.

  3. ksilsu says:

    Bottom line, if Russell Westbrook is focused, he can rock any point guard. Easy.
    But that’s IF he is focused. If he gets mentally tough, he could be so damn scary

  4. Thunderous says:

    The Decision is all on Scott Brooks…
    This team need to improve their Low Post Offense…
    there is big difference in Post Up first then isolate, rather than jump into isolation
    u need a player who can post up, so the others can spread the floor…

    Thunder offense is pretty much stagnant no off ball movement, nor second option

  5. hilljr says:

    Russ is one of the five best players, buy ANYONE’s estimation in the league. I’m not sure hes the best PG in the NBA because that’s not really his game. The picke that the Thunder are in is the same one that Chicago has with it’s PG. How do you win when your Floor General can’t play basketball without the ball, and isn’t a paticularliy good shooter. That’s the problem with both Westbrook and Rose. Their pick and role forrays bog down their offense when the other team defends it well, and they don’t know how to pull off other offensive tricks well enough to open up their pick and roll game.

    • jake s. says:

      Rus plays great defense (see Russ VS. Mike Conley). He may not play great offense without the ball, but his athleticism is an always looming liability for any team playing OKC. For the Thunder, Russ’ offense has a lot to do with what he is capable of… which is pretty much anything in the realm of basketball.

  6. Ray says:

    Russel Westbrook is the best Point Guard in the NBA.What he’s able to do on the court is unmatched by any other Point Guard.Durant and Westbrook combine to be the best duo in the league.The number one problem for OKC is that they don’t have enough consistent scoring outside of Durant and Westbrook,not to mention they really don’t have a legit post threat.Ibaka is the best they have and I see him as a spot up big man rather than a post player.The teams that have won the championship over the past several years has had guys that can knock down shots outside of the superstars,and they’ve also had someone they can go to in the low post.

  7. eli says:

    Westbrook is a good point guard but OKC is not going to the finals its gonna be awhile because they got kobe with the lakers they got my favorite team warriors/clippers all those teams are young the are striving for a championship they have Durant who wants the ball in his hand on every possession and Westbrook just wants to shoot pull up jumpers and celebrate like they won the finals westbrook needs to leave OKC or there not going to the finals anytime soon. and they need a center eho can dominate like marcin gortat roy hibbert or andre Drummond or my favorite Dwight howard

  8. vensou says:

    Westbrook at SG or PG, healthy or not; that not the problem at OKC. the problem at OKC is that Durant and Ibaka is maturing their game the wrong way.

    Durant keep develop is shooting but failed to get shots against SAS. Durant have to be more aggressive on the guy who’s defending him and start working on the post. It’s ridiculous to lose on the final just because Leonard and Green is prevent you to get the ball.

    Ibaka have improve his shooting but OKC don’t need that. they need a post scorer and Adam and Perkins is not good enough to do that.

    Why you guys are pointing the arrow on Westbrook, the guy is the best player on the team and thanks of criticism he have maturing his game to a another level.

    I remember you guys, keep criticizing Lebron, saying he have to improve this and that. It’s time to start with Durant. The guy is amazing, is the the reigning MVP. But OKC will not win a championship without a guy who can post.

    Kobe and Gasol understand that, Garnet and co have understand that, Dirk have understand that.And so does Lebron maturing his post moves.

    So when OKC?????

  9. Hugh Book says:

    The best PG in the Game now and for the past few seasons has been that French man named Tony Parker. He is proven and his resume speaks for itself. Anyone name me a PG that has had as much success as Tony Parker. Russell Westbrooks is the only PG that has at least been to the NBA finals and Western conference Finals more than any other PG beside of Tony Parker. And, off course him and his running mate KD, the second best player in the game behind LBJ. Chris Paul is more a traditional PG than RW is and that is unquestionable. However, CP3 is yet to prove himself as great PG, because he has not had much success as RW although RW is a unorthodox PG. Was AI a PG, a lot of people will say “Yes” unorthodox PG. Russell Westbrooks is a unorthodox PG. Derrick Ross is a unorthodox PG. Unorthodox meaning different from the Magic, John Stockton, Jason Kidd and etc.. Now in terms of the PG that have been able to prove themselves, the list goes TP, RW,CP, Rondo, and then Derrick Rose. despite thinking that without injuries Rondo and D Rose will probably be the best PG in the Game.

  10. MikeM says:

    1)rose
    2)paul
    3)westbrook
    4)irving
    5)Rondo or Parker

  11. Haeri says:

    Russel Westbrook ist not the best PG in the league. I’m not even sure, he’s a PG. Still, he’s an incredibly gifted and athletic player (of whatever position).
    OKC was more or less two teams last season – the one run by Westbrook owning the ball and the one Durant used to lead. There has not been much of a point guard play last season and that is the reason for me ruling him out as the best PG of the league. He simply is not playing like a point guard.
    If you stick to the positions of PG an SG, there are a lot more players with less spectakular play, who run their teams and help them win. There is of course Chris Paul – no question here. But there are also Tony Parker – PG of the Champs – and there are guys like Mike Conley, who is doing a heck of job without al the all-star praises others get. These three guys are my Top3 point guards with (if healty) Rose and Rondo following up.

  12. state27 says:

    westbrook is a proven point, but it hasnt won them any championships. the question here is, is he a good enough player that he can give them that scoring at the two. it cant hurt to try something new. if it doesnt work it doesnt work.
    but there could be some play with who will be the starting point guard. especially with a promising reggie jackson looking for an extension soon.
    its possibke as well they look to trade him for a point guard whos primarily a distributor while picking up a solid scoring two on the wing. and they would keep jackson who seems to be developing into the same kind of player that westbrook is.
    obviously the thunder would like to keep the current roster intact, but so far they have failed to find a ring.
    its not hard to believe that some might question whether they have the current tools to win it all. clearly theyve got what it takes to get there but not what it takes to win it
    other concerns may be that westbrook has had some injury problems already. early into his career. this could cause management to wonder if this is something that might be a sign in the future.

    so i believe that the question here really isnt about how good of a point guard westbrook is but can he play the two and can he stay healhy for a full season and post season without serious injury or time off the court. with his contract getting closer to the resigning date management wants to know answers so they can make moves looking forward.

    the possibility is that they may send westbrook to boston for rondo and a shooting guard possibly bradley. and either try to keep jackson or send him as well.
    either way its possible that the team could try him at the two this season and if it doesnt work there could be a trade. clearly the thunder are looking to find a missing piece for a championship title. they know durant is there key guy and that ibaka is there rock down low. so the questions land first with the guy who distributes the ball on court.
    what needs to happen is the center, shooting guard and power forward. need to upgrade there scoring ability. lessening the burden on russels shoulders to score.
    this could also enable him to stay healthy a bit more

  13. Beli says:

    Westbrook is a shooting guard. Just get someone who can guard the opposite team pg, and do the same thing that the Heat did when they have the Big Three.
    There is a bunch of guys in the NBA that are natural shooting guards, but because their size (too small) their coaches have them playing the pg position. Gosh, D Rose is one of them.

  14. flappy byrd says:

    I’m sorry but i would take a healthy Rondo over pretty much any other pg except Rose. Yes Rondo’s jumper is suspect, but all of the others have their issues too. Rondo is an amazing facilitator, can rebound, can penetrate into the paint at will and is a great on-ball defender. Oh yes, he also already has a ring.

  15. E2DaIzzo says:

    trade Westbrook to Rondo and OKC will be better. period

  16. Whom says:

    Finals appearance, 2 Western Finals, knocked out in second round without him last year, went from a 20-ish win team to a top 3 team practically overnight with him at the point. What other evidence do you need?

    As for best, yes, I’d have to say that based on his stats along with his team’s success. He makes horrible calls sometimes, yes, but that team needs for him to be relentless and unpredictable. Chris Paul is the best leader on the floor in the NBA for 34-35 minutes (of which I’ll address further down), but he has yet to come out of the second round of the playoffs despite the great talent around him for really, the past 4 seasons. And each year the talent only gets better, the coach got better, the defense got better, but Paul never seems to progress in the manner they need him to. He’s the only one right now who can make or break that team with just the slightest of adjustments. His decision making in close games in the playoffs is mediocre at best. He’s often times at the root of a late game turnover or foul, and he sometimes misses free throws in clutch situations despite being such a good free throw shooter. He knows it, he owns up to it when it happens, but he hasn’t rectified it yet.

  17. SYDALE says:

    Westbrook is definitely NOT the best PG in the league, however, move him over to the SG position, and he’s instantly the best at that position… with only James Harden to challenge…

    People talking about how he doesn’t have great percentages from 3pt range, but not all SG’s are the same… Michael Jordan is the greatest SG, Kobe’s 2nd, Wade 3rd, Drexler 4th, and either AI or George Gervin 5th and none of them have great 3pt % shooting… all are ISO slashers at their best, and excel in midrange… which is Westbrook’s game!

    Westbrook’s a good playmaker as all those legendary guards I named were. However, your PG is first and foremost a distributor and ball mover… Westbrook lacks that type of vision and unselfishness…

  18. Flash 2.0 says:

    I seem to remember another tweener who moved over to the two with great success. Dwade anyone?

  19. William says:

    Westbrook is great at pushing the ball down the court and disrupting opponents’ defense from getting set, which creates plays for Ibaka and Durant. If the defense doesn’t run with him, his dunk % is very good.

  20. Brandon King says:

    Personally, I say keep Westbrook as a point guard. There is no denying his explosiveness and overall talent but it seems that he lack the point guard mindset. All I think he should really focus on is limiting turnovers and play smart basketball.

  21. ballin says:

    Negative. Westbrook is not a great shooter and he will not thrive coming off screens.. Like a guy above stated he has to attack from the top bringing the ball down the floor picking up speed to add to his agressiveness to make him effective. Not to mention he kind of bulldozers over alot of point guards including chris paul, kyrie irving, john wall etc… At the sg guard position his only strength will be his speed because he does not have the range nor the size to play sg…I think he could play it but it would not be a good idea…And reggie jackson needs to stay the 6th man and quit making demands, its way too early for that..Without him coming off the bench they will have to rely on lamb and co. to put up the points and even though im a fan of lamb they wont get the same productivity without a true point guard like jackson off then bench…Dont do it OKC..Let him walk if thats what it will come down to before he forces you in to making a bad decision…

  22. earl hamilton says:

    okc needs to put westbrook at shooting guard and put reggie at point guard

  23. Got your answer! says:

    We know he is a great player, but in order to be an elite PG, one should be able to distribute the ball and make it easier for his teammates to run the plays. If he is able to do that and bring his turnovers down, he can up there with Chris Paul and D Rose before his injuries.

  24. Reggie says:

    Starting RW with Reggie Jackson is just nonsense. They BOTH take away shots from KD, their style of play is more or less similar, and without Jackson as the 6th man their bench scoring is just horrible. So if Reggie Jackson really wants to be a starter, he should just ask for a trade because it will better than starting with RW. Just take a look at Bledsoe who kinda excelled without backing up CP.

  25. Mek says:

    Chris Paul is the best point guard in the league. I would even take Curry over Westbrook in terms of point guards. He’s also not a better point guard than a healthy Rondo, and D. Rose. In terms of just being a player, I believe Westbrook is a better overall player than most of those I just mentioned, but not a better point guard. He doesn’t play the point guard position well at all sometimes. Scott Brooks needs to stop making declarations like this feeling his head up even more.

  26. GaryPinoyMan says:

    He should move to SG. He can’t setup anybody. If OKC can have someone who can distribute the ball and decide either its Russel or KD’s turn, it will better the offensive flow. One of RW flaw is his own greatness, he cannot control the phase.

  27. standard says:

    RW is better than CP3
    that was proven last playoffs.
    now that said.
    move on.
    this article is a nonsense
    no reggie jackson drama will make the OKC to think
    on moving RW to shooting guard.

  28. matteo says:

    The other key question is: who is going to play 2 (but RW)? I don’t think Reggie can do it, maybe Jeremy or Andre, talented guys will be consistent and step up, or one of the new ones. Hope the internal competition will bring benefits and make them grow not always happens. That’s why I see what Mr Brooks do next

  29. matteo says:

    It’s all right. Probably Mr Brooks should make better, surely RW has not showed any killer instinct. He must improve on managing the game better, which have not been doing in 7 years. So probably it’s the case to play him 2 when OKC need points, and he is relieved by Team managing role. But it’s also true that OKC need a consistent 6th man

  30. ademdemirdag says:

    Keep him at PG, Russell Westbrook needs the ball and attack the rim from top to have the most effectiveness. I can’t see him being effective coming off the picks and having less touches on the ball. He’s not a natural shooter, he’s more of a slasher than a shooter and he needs to play P&R with big guys and or KD to wreak havoc on D. That’s where he’s best at ! No, definitely keep him at Point guard…

  31. Fundamentals says:

    I hate when the NBA talks about he best “1-2 punch”. That 2 punches wont mean anything, when a team got the best 5 punches or even 9 punches. A team should not be built around one guy, a team should be built to where it works as one unit, not guy. Last season, Miami and OKC has stocked their roster with multiple of All stars, but still both teams were not able to obtain a NBA championship. Miami had three starters, Dwade, Lebron, and Bosh who were naturally individual scorers, so alot of ISO and Pick&roll were being run to stack individual stats. But the knowledge to create an easy basket without dribbling is beautiful. It was fun to watch the old spurs confuse Miami into defeat. Its crazy what teamwork and a good coaching staff can do.

    • haha says:

      Chris Paul is overrated. He used to be the best point guard but now, people hold onto the past. He is slower now. His defense is suspect. Also, his individual success has never translated into team success.

    • Rangers says:

      A two punch combo can be better than a deep team. Just because your straw man debate about JUST the finals last year doesn’t mean every deep team will win. I don’t remember you saying this in 2013 or Kobe’s lakers with gasol of Shaq.

      It depends what players are a part of the 2 punch combo.

  32. jake s. says:

    OKC has the best talent in the league. Sorry Cavs/Clips fans. With the new supporting cast in position, OKC is the team to beat.

  33. Thunder Ring says:

    Keep Westbrook at the point……. Hes one of the best at his position! Try playing KD at the 2 & see how the Thnder can create mismatches galore 🙂 but definitely get these guys some help at the 5

  34. Chris says:

    I love how people react to this like it’s something that’s actually being discussed by anyone in the Thunder organization. Trust me, no one in Oklahoma thinks that Russ should not be the point guard of this team especially after his amazing playoff performance. (Chris Paul’s “amazing” D didn’t seem to slow him down much then.) Westbrook is without a doubt the emotional and physical leader of the Thunder and I think he is just getting smarter so I expect to see a leap in his ability to control the game this season. The only way Reggie is starting is as the new 2 guard but really I hope they just throw a little more money his way to stay our superstar sixth man. Hopefully he won’t crumble like Harden did when we make it back to the finals.

  35. jumppong says:

    everybody is so hype to Cris Paul he doesn’t even proved himself. i’d prefer westbrook compare to cris paul who doesn’t even know how to penetrate. Cris Paul can’t defend westbrook one on one

  36. harriethehawk says:

    Hmmmmm. I’m still pondering over the comment that the OKC would have already won a championship if Cliff Paul was their point guard instead of Russell Westbrook….

  37. Paul says:

    He’s not better than Chris Paul. He’s small for a 2, but since Reggie Jackson came up and wants to start now, you could put Westbrook at the 2. But then he wouldn’t be the best point guard in the league anymore, huh Mr. Brooks?

  38. TTKIN says:

    It’s funny Brooks says Westbrook is the best PG in the NBA. But honestly, if OKC had Chris Paul instead of RW, they would’ve won a title by now (maybe a diff coach too).

    And this is coming from someone who hates chris paul.

    CP3 has better D and would know how to defer to Durant when needed. After like 7 yrs, RW still cant figure that out.

    Brooksy needs to stop babying RW and challenge him to start acknowledging Durant is the best player on the team, not himself.

    If Im Durant, I cant get out of OKC and into WAS fast enough. And a large part of that is RW’s fault. A scorer like Durant would love to play alongside John Wall.

    • yea right, your so called chris paul should has a better chance winning a championship with the clippers considering the fact that they have talent at all positions.

      • recognize says:

        ok! so RW is one of the most talented point guards and probably the most atheletic guys at the 1 position. in my opinion scot brooks needs to try something different and may be taking the ball out of RW’s hands might be the solution. u have a 7 year vet who doesn’t know when to slow it down/ speed it up or take a short or give it up. anyways with that said the OKC’s biggest problem is not RW but there ability to play as a 5 man unit.

      • TTKIN says:

        I agree that he has a better shot with LAC right now. What I meant was if CP3 had been on OKC the last several yrs instead of RW, I think they woulda won a title.

        Imagine how much Durant could score if he has a old-school PG like CP3 setting him up. Instead of RW who takes pride in taking shots away from the greatest scorer in the league right now. The Kevin Martin experiment would’ve gone better too cuz CP3 would be getting him open spot up jumpers all night long.

        But again, I put the blame on Brooks AND RW. I already highlighted my RW complaints, but Brooks is the coach. He is supposed to get on RW to better himself. He is supposed to stop putting Kendrick in the lineup for yrs, bcuz he is literally the only person who thinks that makes sense.

        OKC plays the exact same way every yr and wonders why they cant win a title. Figure it out dudes, u need to play a different way. Jacking up shots gets u regular season wins, it doesn’t get u titles. But they still cant figure that out. And Brooks says he basically has no reason to change anything.

      • slightlymoreeducatedhuman says:

        and chris paul also has champion coach too…

      • MR. J says:

        the whole thunder franchise is scott brooks fault. dude made it to the finals one year. with james harden. and let him go. not starting james harden before sefolosha was his biggest mistake. period

    • squala96 says:

      Without injuries, Derrick Rose is the best point guard in the league. Chris Paul is an awesome facilitator, but choked during the middle part of the playoffs and can do with more shooting. Steph Curry is a scoring machine, but still needs to play D. Westbrook’s ball-hog nature precedes his relentlessness. John Wall needs more playoff experience and Kyrie Irving is yet to get there.