How To Build A Team Around Russell Westbrook

Throughout his basketball career, Russell Westbrook has been the type of player who likes to have the ball consistently in his hands. For instance, Russell would bring the ball up to the three-point line and then a big man would set a screen. Once the pick was set Westbrook would pay attention to his defender to determine the next course of action, for instance, if the defender went under the screen, Russell would go over it and take the wide-open shot. On the other hand, if the defender went over the screen, Westbrook would go over it as well and drive towards the basket where he would score or pass the ball to the player next to him or to the perimeter depending on whether he was double teamed or not.

However, there are some occasions when Russell Westbrook will wave off his teammates and choose to play isolation basketball with the defender. For example,  Westbrook would dribble the ball to about the free throw line and pay attention to his defender to determine the next course of action. If the defender gave him a few feet of space, he would pull up to shoot the wide-open mid-range jumper. On the other hand, if the defender played him tight, he will attempt to drive towards the basket for an easy basket, to draw a foul or attract a double team. When he invites a double team,  Russell will kick it out to the perimeter with hopes of getting a three-pointer for his team. Not only does Russell Westbrook pay attention to the distance between the defender and himself but he also pays attention to the size of the defender. For instance, if the defender is smaller than him, Russell will attempt to post up and back him down a few feet to shoot a turn around jumper.

Due to this, a team would have to surround Russell Westbrook with players who can catch and shoot or know how to move without the ball. However, not only will a team have to acquire three-point shooter but they need to find players who are outstanding defenders. This is because Westbrook has developed a habit of just watching the ball during defensive possessions. Due to this, he loses track of his assignment when not playing on-ball defense which forces the other players to decide to rotate or leave him open.

As a result of this, a team should target players like Matthew Dellavedova, Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Tony Snell and Paul George. All of these players shoot above 36 percent from behind the arc for their careers and are known as excellent defenders. For example, these players will crowd the space of the ball handler forcing them to pick up the dribble and turn sideways. Once this happens, they will go for the steal or run to a spot on the same side the ball handler is looking at to cut off the potential pathway. After this happens, the ball handler has two choices, take a contested shot or pass the ball.

In conclusion, if a team were to fill out the roster with those type of players, it would give Russell Westbrook the best opportunity to make a deep playoff run and possibly a championship. This is because  a team can put Westbrook on the weakest offensive player and lessen the risk of being hurt by his ball watching.

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