Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/18/14
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

DeMarco Murray: I don't pay attention to being replaced

Bucs believed to be going for Marcus Mariota with No. 1 pick

Report: Wrigley Field renovation causing massive rat problem

Rex Ryan praises Patriots, calls Deflategate 'unfortunate'

Brady hopes Peyton Manning comes back next season

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Thibodeau’s relationship with Bulls 'beyond repair'

Joe Montana pins blame for Deflategate on Tom Brady

NFLPA boss: No Deflategate interviews until after SB

Blandino: Deflategate no sting; PSI in footballs not logged in

Aaron Hernandez’s DNA found on bullet casing, joint near body

Thomas upset he was tested for PEDs over health statement

Matt Damon, Ben Affleck defend Patriots on Kimmel

Watch: John Oliver tackles the Super Bowl

The Washington Redskins and their forgotten dynasty

WATCH: Katy Perry cracks Deflategate, Marshawn jokes

Devon and Leah Still write a book for kids fighting cancer

Five potential heroes of Super Bowl XLIX

WATCH: Timberwolves throw shade at Kevin Love in promo

Tom Izzo: 'The Twitter' may have affected team's confidence

Measles outbreak hits Arizona days before Super Bowl

Proposed pace-of-play rule changes, by the numbers

Super Bowl XLIX should smash TV viewership record yet again

NFL, officials, Carroll disagree on ineligible player rules

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

Five potential Super Bowl XLIX heroes

Rex Ryan downplays Deflategate

Brady hopes Manning comes back

The worst Super Bowl commercials of all-time

SB anthem, halftime performers through the years

Super Bowl should smash TV records

Super Bowl records unlikely to fall

15 amazing Super Bowl XLIX stats

Teammate: Manziel not a joke

Ten most underrated SB performances

Knicks ‘in play’ for Kevin Durant?

Ex-QB: Everyone deflates footballs

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.