Is Russell Westbrook the NBA’s best point guard?
Let’s go to one of the least objective sources we can find, someone happy to blurt out his opinion.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks, via Royce Young of ESPN:
“I believe Russell is the best point guard in basketball,” Brooks said, unprompted. “That’s happened over time. I’ve seen Russell every practice, every game, every film session, and he’s really put a lot of time into being the best point guard in basketball.”
As you’d expect, though, Westbrook concurred with his coach’s statement.
“I do,” he said. “I’m very honored to hear him say that, but that’s how I feel. I mean, I don’t know what to tell you.”
This is not Brooks being asked a question then sticking with his guy. The statement was unprompted. This is a motivational technique.
Who knows what Brooks actually believes? Heck, he might not even know what he thinks. Coaches don’t necessarily spend a lot of time ranking players by position.
But Brooks has no incentive to give an accurate assessment of Westbrook and other point guards. Brooks has incentive to bring out the best in Westbrook.
How does praising Westbrook accomplish that? Westbrook is already – perhaps too – confident in his own abilities. Maybe it’s as simple as Brooks building trust with Westbrook.
Or maybe Brooks is banking on public disagreement to his comment.
If so, I’ll indulge.
My point guard rankings:
1. Chris Paul
2. Russell Westbrook
3. Stephen Curry
Tony Parker, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe follow in some order after that.
Paul is a better passer, better defender and better 3-point shooter than Westbrook. Westbrook is more athletic, and that shows near the rim. But overall, Westbrook doesn’t quite translate his athleticism to Paul’s production.
Westbrook has the highest upside of any point guard in the league, and he’s just 25 – three years younger than Paul – and already ranks No. 2. Westbrook could overtake Paul soon, and maybe Brooks’ press conference ultimately adds the fuel that gets Westbrook over the hump.