Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/23/12
Nba_thunder_vs_0339
BOSTON — Aside from LeBron James, Russell Westbrook might be the most polarizing player in the NBA. Basketball fans either love or hate the Oklahoma City guard and the constant frenetic pace at which he plays, with his detractors claiming he is not a pure point guard and his defenders insisting he brings a unique combination of talents to the position. Celtics coach Doc Rivers was tasked with drawing up a game plan to slow down Westbrook, as well as Kevin Durant, in Friday’s game against the Thunder. From the sound of it, Rivers is an unabashed Westbrook fan. “Westbrook’s a great player,” Rivers said shortly before tip-off. “That’s where I always leave it with him.” But that is not, in fact, where Rivers left it. He went on to recount a conversation he had with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who coached Rivers’ son Austin last year. The legendary “Coach K” is also a Westbrook supporter, which might surprise the purists who decry the guard’s aggressive nature. “How many ‘Oh, [crap]!’ guys are there in the league?” Krzyzewski told Rivers. “Westbrook is one of them. When you see Westbrook and you’re the guard on the other side, you’re saying, ‘Oh, [crap],’ before the game starts.” Twelve games into his fifth NBA campaign, Westbrook once again is displaying everything people love and hate about him. He entered Friday’s matchup averaging 20.8 points, 8.4 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game, as well as 2.8 turnovers per game, which is actually a career low and is more than a full assist fewer than Rajon Rondo‘s average. Despite averaging five fewer points per game than Durant, Westbrook was taking more shots per 36 minutes. Yet some fans might be surprised that this is the third time in four seasons that Westbrook has averaged more than eight assists per game, and that the Thunder have gotten deeper in the playoffs every year during that time. Westbrook also hauls in 1.5 offensive rebounds per game, the highest average among point guards. “That’s who Westbrook is,” Rivers said. “He’s an athletic freak. He really is. Rondo’s an amazing offensive rebounder for his size. Westbrook is one of the best I’ve ever seen for his size at a guard spot, and with the ability to get back on [defense] as well. He’s going to get criticized because he scores and all that, but you don’t have to be a traditional point guard anymore.” Friday’s game promised to be a clash of styles between two point guards, but Westbrook and Rondo had more in common than it may seem. Each player has his critics, but each is indispensable in his own right. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here. Photo via Facebook/Russell Westbrook
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Miguel Cabrera headed to disabled list for 1st time in career

Report: San Antonio Spurs to sign LaMarcus Aldridge

WATCH: Serena Williams wags finger at Wimbledon crowd, says, 'Don’t try me'

Report: Rajon Rondo headed to Sacramento Kings

Dez Bryant deal with Cowboys could be announced Monday

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Brandon Saad, Ryan O’Reilly sign long-term contracts with Columbus, Buffalo

Mavs solidify future, sign Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan

A-Rod, Yankees settle dispute over home run milestone bonus

Report: Robin Lopez, Knicks finalizing four-year deal

Becky Hammon will coach Spurs' Summer League team

Jimmy Butler on Derrick Rose: ‘I don’t think we have any issues’

Report: Green Bay Packers’ player charged with firing a gun in Miami

Kawhi, LaMarcus, the mid-range and the Spurs' next epoch

Tennis: How can Rafael Nadal regain his dominance?

NBA Rumors: Cavs and Spurs vying for David West

Damian Lillard is the Blazers’ new franchise player

Bryce Harper flaunts patriotic bat, hits home run

Report: Magic will sign Tobias Harris to 4-year deal

The top American sports moments since the last Fourth of July

Nine former college football rivalries that need to come back

The most patriotic uniforms in American sports

Jeanie Buss: Brother Jim will step down if Lakers don't make deep run within two seasons

DeAndre Jordan to Dallas: The Los Angeles Clippers are literally mad men

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Russell Wilson 'would definitely consider' playing for Mariners

Solo, Rapinoe among USWNT stars up for World Cup awards

LBS on Sports Jeopardy! Here's how how it went

College football's 35 most patriotic helmets

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

With Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans

Obama Administration: Change name if Redskins move to D.C.

Deciding what the All-Star Game means

Odell Beckham Jr. offered professional baseball contract

Orioles keep finding a way to win

Lloyd sends USWNT to World Cup final

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.