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NBA PM: Westbrook Supportive After Injury
Posted By Alex Kennedy On May 9, 2013 @ 5:07 pm In NBA | No Comments
Former Colorado State big man Colton Iverson is in the 2013 NBA Draft. HOOPSWORLD caught up with him to discuss his game and give you a glimpse of his pre-draft workouts.Watch More Video Here
Russell Westbrook Frustrated, But Supportive
Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook had started every game of his collegiate and professional career before suffering a lateral meniscus tear in the first round against the Houston Rockets. Now, rather than helping his team make a deep postseason run, he’s going through rehab and watching each game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena from a box since he can’t be on the bench yet.
“It’s tough, man,” Westbrook said in his first interview since his injury. “I don’t want to let my team down. I want to compete. I love playing. I want to play in every game as long as I’m able to and able to walk, but this time I wasn’t able to walk and run like I was supposed to.
“I was disappointed, man. It was disappointing. You never want to be out the whole year. Especially [not being able to] help my team out during the playoffs. This is a time where guys play through everything and this is something that I couldn’t play through. It’s tough.”
Westbrook sustained the injury during the first half of Game 2 when he collided with Rockets guard Patrick Beverley. The very next play, Westbrook went coast-to-coast and scored a lay-up and he even finished the game. However, his pain increased at halftime and even more later that night once his adrenaline wore off.
“Once it got to halftime it got real stiff,” Westbrook said. “So it was tough for me to come back and start running again and jumping. But as the game went on and the crowd is going I’m going to continue to play and try to find a way I can help.
“When I was playing on it I was basically playing on one leg, kind of just hobbling around. You probably could notice. I was kind of just hobbling around just trying to find a way where I can do what I can to help my team win. And at the same time I was in pain.”
When asked which is worse, the mental part of the physical part, Westbrook responded “both.”
“I never had to rehab anything,” Westbrook said. “This is tough, coming in doing the same thing every day. And then mentally, it can be tough. I mean, you’ve got to keep your spirits high, stay positive and then come in with a mindset of trying to get better.
He admitted that he’s still angry about how his season came to an abrupt end, but now he’s focusing on helping on the Thunder in other ways. He’s giving his replacement Reggie Jackson advice here and there as well as talking to the team in practice and at halftime. He and Kevin Durant still talk all of the time and discuss what the team needs to do to advance.
“It’s tough, but as a point guard and a leader of this team my job is to find a way where I can help my teammates, the coaching staff and the organization,” Westbrook said. “They’ve been a big supporter of me and my job is to give it back. Help them out as much as I can and give my input. … Even though I’m out, I still have a voice and I can help my team. Still find a way where I can communicate things to guys. Maybe they don’t listen, maybe they do. But I still have a point to where I can use my voice and try to find a way where I can help my team.”
Westbrook has been impressed by Jackson, who had never played in a playoff game entering this postseason. Despite his inexperience, the 23-year-old has taken over as the starter in his sophomore season and has averaged 15.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists since replacing Westbrook.
“Reggie’s done a great job of playing his game,” Westbrook said. “He’s been playing with good composure I think, especially going to Houston and taking care of those games and now getting ready to head to Memphis. I think he’s done a great job of just controlling the game. Obviously, KD handles the ball a little more, but I think Reggie’s done a great job of just being consistent and playing his game.”
Everyone has stepped up since Westbrook went down. Durant is commanding the ball and taking more shots, Jackson has assumed a bigger role and Kevin Martin has become the team’s new second option. Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha and Nick Collison continue to lead the team defensively and fill their roles. With all of the talent that Oklahoma City still has, Westbrook believes the team can still represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals and win a championship.
“They’re tough, I think we have a tough group of guys,” Westbrook said. “We’re finding a way to win games. The group of guys we have, I think we have enough to get a ring. I honestly think we’ve been together long enough to be able to figure things out when guys go down. You can see that.”
Right now, Westbrook is still very limited in what he can do. He can’t work out, lift weights or even drive, so he spends most of his time watching movies, hanging out with his family and friends, and being around the team. However, as soon as he can resume workouts and basketball activities, Westbrook will work hard to become an even player. He also believes his time away from the game and new perspective as a fan can help him become a more efficient player.
“[I want to] come back better, a better player,” Westbrook said. “Mentally, I think that’s the biggest thing. Mentally it’s going to be a big step for myself and moving forward with this team.
“I think I get an opportunity to sit back. This is my first time basically seeing the game from a different view. I may sit out for a few minutes here and there, but to kind of sit back and watch a whole game when I’m not playing is different. This is my first time doing it, and it’s something that can help me to see some of the things that maybe you guys see or somebody may see. The crazy shots I shoot or the time of possession (laughs). You can kind of see different things so I think it’s good for me.”
Westbrook doesn’t have a timetable for his return just yet. He’ll get off of crutches in four-to-five weeks and then he’ll have a better idea of when he’ll be able to resume basketball-related activities. Game 3 between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies is Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.
Jay Bilas On the 2013 NBA Draft
This year’s draft class has been described as one of the weakest of all-time by some NBA decision-makers. However, just because the top of this draft is relatively weak compared to most years, that doesn’t mean the entire class is bad. This draft is pretty deep and there are plenty of players who could develop into talented contributors at the next level.
ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas agrees with that description of this year’s class.
“No question there will be some really good players that come out of this draft,” Bilas told HOOPSWORLD’s Lang Greene. “I think if we started this draft at pick No. 10 then we’d think it was really good when we talk about all the values there are in the draft. But the problem is we start it at No. 1 and in our culture we compare number one picks to each other and number five picks to number five picks. Well, this year’s number one pick is not going to be as good as the number one pick from the 2003 draft [LeBron James] or the 2008 draft [Derrick Rose] or even last year’s draft [Anthony Davis].
“So if you compare it that way then of course it’s going to be a down year. But if you start looking at values in the draft then I think there are some good ones across the board. There are fewer guys who you can see becoming a star, but there are lots of guys who are potential rotation players who could help you win, guys that have a chance to be very good down the road. If you took Dwyane Wade out of Marquette into this draft he would be the number one pick. He was the fifth pick in 2003 when he came out but the guy is a Hall of Famer. There is such a thing as better talent years, just like national champions or NBA champions some are stronger than others. We didn’t have a great year for elite talents in college basketball, but there is still talent on the board.”
Because there isn’t a LeBron-type player in the 2013 draft, there is still some uncertainty at the top of the board. Which player will be the first selected on June 27? Most people say Nerlens Noel out of Kentucky, but Bilas thinks Ben McLemore out of Kansas is the better pick.
“I don’t think I’d want to have the number one pick this year as opposed to some other years, but it doesn’t mean you’re not going to get some good players if you’re intelligent about your process,” Bilas said. “I tend to think the best all-around talent on the board is Ben McLemore from Kansas. I hear Nerlens Noel being discussed as being the top pick and that’s absolutely legitimate because I think he would be a worthy top pick in this draft, but McLemore down the road has the potential to be the best player in his draft class.”
Bilas is also a big fan of Otto Porter out of Georgetown and his sleeper in this draft is Pierre Jackson out of Baylor. Porter is projected to be a lottery pick while Jackson is projected to go late in the second round.
“I’m a big fan of Otto Porter because he’s a different kind of player,” Bilas said. “I think he has a chance to come in and be a member of a successful team because he is so skilled and he defends at a high level.
“A guy like Pierre Jackson could come into the league and contribute even though he’s only 5’9 or 5’10. You’ll be able to put him into the game and change the tempo of the game and just be disruptive.”
This year’s draft features a number of one-and-done players including Noel, McLemore, Anthony Bennett, Shabazz Muhammad and Archie Goodwin. While some college basketball coaches and supporters have been against the one-and-done rule, Bilas has no problem with it.
“A lot of coaches say ‘I don’t want a one and done player,’ well then you don’t have to worry about it,” Bilas said. “What they’re really saying is that they don’t want to play against them either and that’s where the problem comes in, that’s where the moralizing comes in. You’ve got too many people saying, ‘I don’t want this, this is not what college is about for me.’ Well then run your school the way you want to because all we’re doing is playing ball. So if you don’t want to play on Saturday, then don’t play. We’re really quick to say to the player, ‘Hey, if you don’t like it you don’t have to go to college.’ Ok, if a coach doesn’t like it they don’t have to recruit a player. I don’t understand what the handwringing is all about. For example, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose or name any other player who stayed for only a year, they did not negatively impact the education of one other student. Not one. It actually enhanced the basketball program and it certainly enhanced the schools because both Texas and Memphis made a boatload of money off those players and continue to make a boatload of money off those players. So, I hardly think the one and done era is this travesty so many people think it is.”
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