04-22-2010, 12:22 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Downtown Hoops Dojo
Article:Russell Westbrook continues his climb
From the LA Times
The former Bruin seemed to be rushing things by leaving school early. But he was picked No. 4 overall by the Thunder and now the Lakers are seeing what that talent is all about.
By Mark Heisler
April 21, 2010 | 8:53 p.m
Looks like he was ready after all, huh?
UCLA fans grimaced when freshman Kevin Love entered the NBA draft in the spring of 2008, even though they knew all along he would. They were aghast when sophomore Russell Westbrook, then known as Russell He's Not Ready Westbrook, did it.
Now, it's more like the NBA isn't ready for Russell Westbrook.
Watching him drive, put the ball behind his ear and prepare to tomahawk one on the Lakers, it's hard to believe that he didn't dunk until his senior year at Leuzinger High.
Nor was he recruited by the majors. He was headed for UC San Diego until Jordan Farmar left and UCLA gave him a belated offer.
As a freshman shooting guard, he played nine minutes a game.
Westbrook didn't move to the point until the start of his sophomore season when he filled in for injured Darren Collison.
Or as Westbrook says of his rocket ride from Leuzinger to stardom:
"I just tried to continue to work, and everything just played out by itself and worked out. I ended up getting drafted and I've continued to play and I'm just blessed to be in this position."
That says it all.
Or not. UCLA people used to say Westbrook was the nicest young man in the program but he was also shy and didn't like talking about himself.
In two seasons in the NBA with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he may never have answered a question from the press without saying he has to "continue to work" or "continue to play."
So, who is this guy?
"Everybody loved the talent," Clippers General Manager Neil Olshey said of the days leading up to the 2008 draft.
"Most teams, that thought he'd be a great utility player had him in the lottery in the 9-14 range.
"Two teams, Memphis and Oklahoma City, believed he could play point guard. The Thunder wound up taking him at No. 4.
"Now that he's playing point guard, he dominates other people at the position with his athleticism. There won't be another point guard in the league with a body like that until next season."