Russell Westbrook thinks Scott Brooks has become 'a great coach' since joining Wizards
Westbrook believes Brooks has become "a great coach" since joining Wizards, who originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
It's been nearly six years since Russell Westbrook and Scott Brooks re-started the same team, and in the NBA, six years is three lifetimes.
Since the last time they were together in 2015, LeBron James has won two titles and switched teams for the third time. Kevin Durant has won two Golden State championships and is now in Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving, who forced his way out of Cleveland and then left Boston over the same period. Oh, and Kawhi Leonard messed up the league by requesting a deal with the Spurs, winning it all with the Raptors, and then signing with the Clippers this summer.
A lot has changed in the NBA in the past six years, and Westbrook and Brooks are no exception. As they prepare for another season together, this time with the Wizards, Westbrook watched what has changed for him and his former and new head coach since they last worked under the same roof in Oklahoma City.
"For me, from a leadership perspective, just understanding a lot more," Westbrook told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller. "Obviously I've gotten better as a player since then. I've grown every year, just blessed and grateful to be able to keep playing."
Westbrook struggled with injuries in his final two seasons with Brooks at OKC, and the Thunder also happened to struggle, leading to Brooks' sacking and the eventual hiring of Bill Donovan. Brooks went on to coach John Wall and Bradley Beal in Washington, while Westbrook came within a win of the NBA final and scored a triple-double three seasons in a row after Kevin Durant's departure to the Warriors.
"I'm around [Brooks] and I understand his growth, too," Westbrook said. “We were young, Scotty was young, he learned. I think he turned out to be a great coach. "
One of Brooks' biggest steps as head coach was getting Westbrook - considered a rifle guard out of UCLA - to be the point guard. Sure, there were mistakes, but Westbrook ended up becoming one of the best the game had to offer in this position.
Brooks is now reunited with one of his greatest success stories and is excited to have a Westbrooks caliber player who knows exactly what he's going to get from him every night.
"With Russell, you never have to worry about not playing hard," Brooks said after the Wizards acquired Westbrook. "That's what he does."
But that's not the only thing about Westbrook that hasn't changed, Brooks said.
"He's still a terrible singer. He can't sing," said Brooks.
For the young players on the Wizards roster, Westbrook is a role model for a player who has taken advantage of a coach's trust in him as a player. When you look at Westbrook's career, it's hard to argue with the results.
"He's always been a great coach to me, gave me the opportunity to just play and I'm grateful for that," said Westbrook. "I'm grateful to this day for allowing me to make so many mistakes and learn."
Visit NBC Sports Washington on Wednesday at 6 p.m. to fully document the Wizards season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers.
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