Originally posted 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

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Tony Romo ‘believes it’s Texans or retirement’

Clay Matthews Sr. passes away at 88

WWE’s Kane is inching toward running for mayor in Tennessee

Jung Ho Kang denied visa for DUI, may miss 2017 MLB season

Jets not ready to say Josh McCown will be starter

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Sens owner on Sidney Crosby: He’s 'a whiner' and should be suspended for Methot slash

Report: Griffin could be growing more open to leaving Clippers

Brandon Brooks accepts wedding invite from Eagles fan

Report: Josh Gordon expected to get reinstatement update in May

Landon Donovan retires from soccer again, this time for good

No discipline for Crosby for slashing off Methot’s fingertip

Best of Yardbarker: Did Team USA's victory save the World Baseball Classic?

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Breaking down the Naismith Award race

Box Score 3/24: Waiting on West Virginia

Eat, Drink, Watch: Weekends are for upsets

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

With Team USA's victory, World Baseball Classic (finally) lived up to its potential

The NFL distraction playbook

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Lingering issues for each 2016 MLB postseason team

Box Score 3/23: Team USA wins their first WBC title

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

Best of Yardbarker: Did Team USA's victory save the World Baseball Classic?

The Rewind: George Mason's improbable run to the Final Four

Breaking down the Naismith Award race

Eat, Drink, Watch: Weekends are for upsets

The 'Once again, Barry Bonds is the best power hitter in San Francisco' quiz

The NFL distraction playbook

With Team USA's victory the WBC (finally) lived up to its potential

The Aesthetic: The world of player exclusive sneakers

Which Sweet 16 team should you be rooting for?

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Steph Curry pushes OKC's buttons

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker