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
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Philly mayor calls LeSean McCoy ‘cowardly'

Report: Price might not return this season due to knee injury

Matt Forte confirms he won’t be returning to Bears

Cardinals GM: ‘No doubt’ team wants Mathieu as fixture

Charles Barkley on Stephen Curry: ‘He’s just a great shooter’

Louisiana governor warns that LSU football could be cut

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: People with Warriors think they will get Durant

Joe Thomas: It’s a ‘sad end’ to Manziel story in Cleveland

DeMar DeRozan: It will be ‘pretty tough’ for me to leave Raptors

Super Bowl referee says Cotchery play could have been a catch

The NBA is one step closer to putting ads on jerseys

Archie Manning defends Cam Newton over press conference

26% of Denver students skipped school for Broncos parade

Eight surprises, letdowns entering NBA All-Star break

Chris Harris: Von Miller should get paid more than JJ Watt

4 likeliest Dwight Howard trade scenarios

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Penn State the latest to offer generic football jerseys for sale

Gary Bettman praises the NHL’s new website and app (which are currently awful)

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

NBA to weigh adding advertisements to jerseys

ESPN, Stephen A. Smith and Little League International sued by parents of Jackie Robinson West

Kobe Bryant shoots down notion he wants All-Star MVP record

Justin Tuck will sign one-day contract to retire with Giants

Ronda Rousey returns to training

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

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

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