Draft 2K8 - Russell Westbrook
Hometown: Hawthorne, Calif.
Westbrook is as improved as any player in this year’s draft. Considered a mid-major recruit out of high school, then a backup point guard at UCLA in his freshman season, and now a projected lottery pick after his sophomore year, Westbrook has made leaps and bounds thanks to hard work and elite athleticism. He has grown into an explosive 6-3 frame, and is especially productive in transition - where most of his scoring and athleticism is put on display. In the half court, Westbrook is able to take defenders off the dribble with the quickness of his first step. What some NBA scouts like the most, however, is Westbrook's defense. After all, he was the PAC-10 Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore. He's strong and laterally quick, making him tough on the ball and as a team defender.
Westbrook doesn’t have the experience leading a team as a point guard, but is he too small to play shooting guard? His ball-handling skills are not terrific, and he struggles to create his own shot. Westbrook’s biggest weakness, however, is his shooting – both the ability to pull up for a mid-range jumper and his range from deep. His shot is a bit flat, especially when it is rushed. Westbrook will be most successful in the League with teams that run on the fast break more than they shoot jump shots.
Westbrook would immediately improve Minnesota's ability to defend on the perimeter, in addition to the team's ability to get up and down the floor offensively. If he were to start playing tomorrow, his limitations (shooting, ball handling) would show up on the floor, but like Corey Brewer he can still do enough different things very well to help your team. You're banking on Westbrook to improve on his weaknesses, as he has every year, due to his hard work, thus making him a solid candidate in terms of the "upside" buzz word.
Sludge's take on RUSSELL WESTBROOK
If UCLA were going to find a way to make a comeback bid against Memphis in the national semifinal, Westbrook was going to be the reason why. Guarded by Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts, both excellent, long defenders, Westbrook scored 22 points to lead the Bruins, scoring in transition and on the fast break on a night when teammates Kevin Love and Darren Collison were struggling. Still, Westbrook and UCLA's Final Four run was strong enough to impress onlookers nation wide.
Round 1: UCLA 70, Mississippi Valley St. 29
Round 2: UCLA 51, Texas A&M 49
Sweet 16: UCLA 88, Western Kentucky 78
Elite 8: UCLA 76, Xavier 57
National Semifinal: Memphis 78, UCLA 63
Chad Ford’s Top 100
"A draft sleeper. Many NBA scouts believe he's the best prospect on the UCLA team. He's projected to go anywhere from 8 to 15 in the draft."
"Offensively, Westbrook’s biggest source of production (nearly 30% of his offense) curiously comes in transition. He plays a fairly small role in UCLA’s half-court offense (only 8% of his offense comes from either pick and roll or isolation plays) , mostly as a complimentary piece—moving off the ball trying to find holes in the defense to get to the rim with his tremendous strength and leaping ability, or shooting wide open jumpers. It’s pretty clear when breaking down his footage that he lacks quite a bit of polish on this end of the floor, even if he is extremely effective at the few things he does well."
"Athletic and explosive combo guard with the length to make up for his lack of height … Attacks the basket with a lethal first step and crossover ability … Can handle the rock well and gets into the lane effortlessly … Finishes well at the rim and is unafraid to go up in traffic…"
"Westbrook may very well be the best athlete in this year’s draft and is probably the best defender. He won the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year award over senior Kyle Weaver and teammate Darren Collison. He is a lockdown, suffocating on-ball defender and will be so immediately upon his arrival in the NBA. He is so quick laterally and is also incredibly strong. Westbrook will also be a very good help defender, particularly as a shotblocker at the guard position."
"Westbrook is an NBA highlight reel type of athlete that excels at both ends of the floor. His ability to play both guard positions makes him even more valuable, however, due to his size he will have to become more of a pure point guard. With his skills and athletic ability the sky is the limit."
Let Them Go – Their Time Has Come
"For Westbrook, his choice to take his high-flying act to the pros comes with more of a twist than Love’s announcement. In the NCAA Tourney, Westbrook showed his capability to play lock-down defense as well as score against the best teams in the country. He’s a freakishly athletic Monta Ellis-type who is looking to be a lottery pick in next month’s draft."
If the Draft Pool is Deep, Players Think Twice Before Jumping In
"The 6-foot-3, 189-pound Westbrook’s season has been highlighted by his gliding dunks over defenders that are etched in YouTube lore, his crafty offensive rebounding and his defensive prowess, which earned him defensive player of the year honors in the Pacific-10 Conference."
ESPN Draft Watch: Which Prospects Helped Their Stock in the Final Four?
"UCLA's one bright spot in its Final Four loss was sophomore guard Russell Westbrook, who showed that he had the size and athleticism to score on Memphis' athletic backcourt. Westbrook was unstoppable when he put the ball on the floor and drove to the basket."
Calipari Has Final Chuckle
"It’s possible nobody can guard Memphis, not with its dribble-drive motion offense and the players who keep dribble-driving every opponent to distraction. Russell Westbrook was voted the Pac-10’s best defender this season, but the problem was that the guys from Westwood had only one Westbrook."
Chad Ford Mock Draft 1.0
No. 7 to L.A. Clippers
Ford's Mock Draft 3.0
No. 11 to Indiana
Ford's Mock Draft 5.0
No. 6 to New York
No. 8 to Milwaukee
No. 12 to Sacramento
Reports Compiled By:
- With contributing writers Matt Tiano and Jude Harder