67RIEFNS No. 8: Russell Westbrook being Russell Westbrook


The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the doldrums of the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

Russell Westbrook shoots too much. He loses the ball over too often. He gambles defensively too frequently.

He just plays too darn fast.

Which is what makes him so great.

Westbrook is one of the NBA’s best guards. He ranks even higher on the list of most exciting, but don’t let his thrilling errors detract from just how good he is.

Westbrook’s brand of (organized?) chaos works. He keeps opponents on their heals by attacking, attacking, attacking. Good luck staying on assignment when Westbrook is constantly using his explosiveness to break the playbook – for both teams.

With Scott Brooks back, the Thunder need Westbrook to keep the pedal on the metal. Brooks’ offense too often stagnates due to a lack of creativity in schemes, leaving Westbrook to make plays. So, he makes plays.

The most common Westbrook criticism is he takes too many shots from Kevin Durant, one of the best scorers – by both volume and efficiency – in NBA history. There are elements of truth in the complaints, but – especially in Brooks’ offense – Westbrook’s attacking opens room for Durant. Plus, Durant doesn’t always cut hard enough off the ball to get open. Again, left to make plays, Westbrook will willingly make plays.

Westbrook knows one way to play – full-on attack mode at all times. Oklahoma City indulges that style. Oklahoma City needs that style.

Unfortunately, that style irks an old guard of fans who want point guards to distribute and minimize risk. A counter movement – Let Westbrook Be Westbrook – has emerged, and I’m a proud member. In addition to recalling fond feelings for Jed Bartlett, Let Westbrook Be Westbrook stands for excitement and awe and athleticism and risk and player empowerment.

Westbrook’s style works because it’s his style. This is his natural way of playing, the way he’s wired to excel. He’s not twisting his game to conform, at least not much. This is Westbrook playing to the maximum of his ability – at least where his ability lies right now.

Are there times Westbrook should play more under control? Of course. But his constant reckless abandon helps the Thunder more than it hurts them.

If Westbrook’s game changes – evolves – I’m fine with that. Playing at different gears more regularly would benefit him. I just don’t want him to conform to the notion of what a “pure point guard” should be only for the sake of doing so.

Let Westbrook Be Westbrook.