The best athletes in the world these days play NBA Basketball. This isn’t to say that Brian Scalabrine is a better athlete than Mike Vick, obviously, but I think for the most part it’s collectively agreed upon that this statement is generally accurate.
Amongst this group of athletic elite, there aren’t too many people more athletic than Russell Westbrook. LeBron would probably rank ahead of him, but I’m not sure anybody could get to their tenth finger, or even their fifth, in an attempt to put many more guys than that ahead of Westbrook as far as overall athleticism is concerned.
Fellow UCLA product Maurice Jones-Drew is a game recognize game type of guy, and he speculated yesterday that Russ Westbrook would make a pretty good receiver if the NBA lockout drags long of enough to get guys interested in that sort of thing. He’s probably right too, and I’m sure Russ would be a pretty tough cover for a 5’9″ DB in the NFL, no matter how fast dude could fly down the sidelines in coverage.
Dan Patrick asked Westbrook how he’d project himself as a football player yesterday on the Dan Patrick Show, and he said he thought he’d be alright. That exchange is below.
DP Show: Maurice Jones-Drew was just on last hour, and he said you could make a decent WR in the NFL?
RW: Actually, I was thinking about that. I used to play football, I was pretty good [in high school]. I think I could make a solid receiver, but I think I’d make a really nice safety.
Westbrook went on to say that he played RB as a kid until he grew too tall for the position. His favorite player was Emmit Smith, and the team he’d play for if he could pick would be the Cowboys.
Westbrook’s athleticism is certainly overwhelming, and I wouldn’t put the possibility of playing any of those positions past him if he wanted too. I kinda think he’d be a pretty explosive quarterback too, but his heart appears to be in the secondary lighting suckers up.
It was that overall athleticism though, that lead to a bunch of Russ Westbrook can’t play PG criticisms this past postseason, fair or not. The thought was that he relied too much on his overall speed, strength, and quickness, and not enough on the cerebral aspects of running a team and being a facilitating lead guard. In summary, people said he didn’t pass to Durant enough, which he also addressed in the interview to an extent.
Patrick asked if he should be announced pregame as a “Guard” or a “PG” and Westbrook quickly responded by reiterating the fact that he is a PG specifically. He said that PG is the position he played his whole life, the one that comes natural to him, and I believe him. I think these past playoffs, where he did make some mistakes as far as leading a team goes to be sure, was more of a development process for a young player than anything else. I think the kid will be fine, and he appears to be good with his boy KD still too for anybody who thinks he isn’t.
He said that the hardest guy for him to guard in the NBA is Kevin Durant in practice, and added that KD could get 80 just like Kobe did too if he ever wanted too. [Insert the "you mean if RW passed it to him enough" joke here, haters]
When Westbrook was asked about why he got so much criticism during these past playoffs, he said that it was all just part of the game.
RW: I really don’t know. That comes along with playing in this league I guess…we were winning, so that’s all that matters.
All that matters indeed, Russ. And worst comes to worst for you on the hardwood, I’m pretty sure just about every GM on the gridiron would give you a shot to help them win too if you were interested.