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News » THUNDER SUMMER LEAGUE NOTEBOOK 2009-07-11


THUNDER SUMMER LEAGUE NOTEBOOK 2009-07-11


THUNDER SUMMER LEAGUE NOTEBOOK 2009-07-11
Russell Westbrook's smile was blinding as he broke down the highlight of Oklahoma City's 94-82 win over the Boston Celtics in Day 3 of the Orlando Pro Summer League.

It was the middle of the second quarter, Westbrook was already loose thanks to a handful of steals and drives to the bucket, and the game was already heavy on breakdowns in transition. Boston Celtics third-year guard Gabe Pruitt, trying to break into Doc Rivers' rotation behind Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Eddie House, moved over in front of Westbrook and tried to stop his forward momentum.

That's where things got hazy. Westbrook lost Pruitt with a move so quick that it was actually difficult to decipher how he managed to get so wide open. The end result wound up being a nasty, uncontested reverse dunk that drew a reaction from the mainly reserved contingent of roughly 400 team personnel and media covering the event.

"It was a hesitation dribble," Westbrook said. "I thought about going to the crossover, but he sprung up in front of me and I had little time to think, so I just came up with a hesi, saw he'd gone the other way and went right to the rim."

Westbrook has been no stranger to eye-opening play through the first three games, consistently crashing the boards for follow-up dunks or getting to the rim whenever he wants. But that play against Pruitt stands out not only because of the devastation factor but also because for the first time at the event, he was matched up against a legitimate NBA guard with more than a few games experience.

Westbrook has made the RDV Sportsplex his playground two years running, following up his eye-opening debut as a rookie with an even stronger effort this time around. Through three games, he's reached the free-throw line 31 times, is shooting 50 percent from the field despite an 0-for-6 showing from 3-point range, and has averaged 7.3 assists.

"Russell has enough talent where he can score 40 points in a Summer League game but he wants to get better at that (point guard) position," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "He improved last season every month playing the point, and I think he's done a terrific job playing the Summer League."

Given how choppy the level of play is at this event, his 4.3 turnovers per game isn't as bad as it sounds, but there's no question his decision-making and long-range jumper are both works in progress. That's what makes his potential so scary.

"It's clear what he has to work on, so if he's putting in those reps, it's only a matter of time before he improves in those conventional lead guard areas," an Eastern Conference scout said. "Physically, he's a beast. It's obvious he makes things happen and plays with a lot of confidence, so the sky is the limit on what he can do as his game expands."

WEAVER HOPING TO EXPAND 3-POINT RANGE

Thunder guard Kyle Weaver started 19 games last season and is aiming to make himself a more valuable commodity now that it appears he'll be competing for minutes with Thabo Sefolosha and rookie James Harden.

As a result, he's looked around the league and seen what the shorter corner 3-pointer has done for the careers of defensive-oriented guys like Bruce Bowen, Raja Bell and Shane Battier and is trying to emulate them.

"I'm working on my overall game, but certainly playing with guys like Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell, guys who can get in the lane and make plays, you have to have somebody who can knock down shots," Weaver said. "In this league, you have to bring something different every year and that's something I've been working on, just being a threat when I'm out on the floor."

ODDS AND ENDS

Harden played only the second half of Wednesday's game, notching breakaway among his two made field goals. ... Rookie Serge Ibaka, who shot 12-for-15 from the field in his first two games and been one of the most intriguing prospects here, was held out of Wednesday's game for rest purposes and sat on the bench in street clothes. ... Thunder management thought so highly of the job they did with Ibaka in Spain that they invited Ricoh Manresa coach Jaume Ponsarnau to be a part of their Summer League staff in Las Vegas starting next week. Ponsarnau will help ease the transition for Ibaka, who arrived in Oklahoma City only a few weeks ago.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: July 11, 2009

 

 
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