On Thursday, Westbrook was named to the 2013 Western Conference All-Star team for the third consecutive season, despite only currently serving his fifth season in the NBA. The Thunder point guard has been one of the founding members of the organization and has spent his entire career with the franchise ever since it arrived in Oklahoma City.
As a result, Westbrook’s intensity, ferocity, relentlessness and work ethic have helped set the internal standards of the Thunder program, giving Westbrook ownership of the culture and environment he plays in each day. That attitude has helped Westbrook expand his game to new heights each and every season, including this one.
“I think (General Manager) Sam (Presti) and (Owner) Clay (Bennett) have done a great job of creating a group of guys and an organization that does great things for us, for themselves and for the community,” Westbrook said. “It just makes us a good program and organization to be a part of.”
The numbers bear out all of the ways Westbrook impacts the game. His 22.7 points are seventh in the NBA and his 8.1 assists are sixth best in the league. He also is a fantastic rebounder for his position, averaging a career-best 5.3 rebounds per game, including 1.5 on the offensive end. In addition, Westbrook is shooting a career-best from the three-point line and over 80 percent from the free throw line.
The young point guard will continue to grow and mature as he continues to improve with the help of the Thunder’s player development staff. With an NBA Finals and three playoff trips under his belt, along with the demanding journey to win an Olympic Gold Medal like he did in London with Team USA last summer, Westbrook has quite a catalog of experiences to draw upon as he continues to get better. His teammates notice his physical, mental and emotional attributes that help the team succeed.
“I think sometimes we forget he’s only 24 years old,” Thunder guard Kevin Martin said. “That’s young being in this league as a point guard and pretty much having the keys to the team. Last year’s Finals helped him, this year the Olympics. He’s just growing as a player and he’s going to be a special one.”
The defensive end of the floor, however, is where Westbrook helps Head Coach Scott Brooks’ Thunder ball club the most. His on-ball defense on the perimeter forces opponents out of their offensive sets and he uses his length and quickness to average a career-high-tying 1.9 steals per game. The tireless way that Westbrook approaches his craft is an example for younger players in the Thunder program, and is one of the many reasons Westbrook was deservedly selected to be an All-Star yet again this season.
“He plays, he competes, he does everything that we ask,” Brooks said. “He improves every year. He plays defense at a high level. He’s a two-way player and I don’t know if there’s a better one in the league that can do both of them."
SACRAMENTO – His hunger, desire and energy are unmatched, and because of that, Russell Westbrook is now a three-time All-Star.