He went from being the team’s scapegoat to their offensive catalyst in the second unit, something not many people saw coming last year.
His first season in purple and gold wasn’t quite memorable, and his feud with some fans only made things worst.
Now, he already has three triple-doubles coming off the bench, and it’s clear that he’s found joy in the game once again.
Third triple-double off the bench for Russ this season 👏 pic.twitter.com/VSDzWUJ9nm
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 28, 2022
More than that, that determination to embrace a lesser role and prove that all he wants to do is hoop, might as well have saved his career beyond this season, according to high-ranking officials:
“This will change how people view him,” an unnamed executive told Sports Illustrated. “If he’s willing to be a change-of-pace point guard, to play less minutes, to have defensive energy, top-tier teams are going to be interested in him this summer. The Iverson comparisons are fair. Allen could have played three or four more years if he had been willing to come off the bench. He would have had a field day against second units. Westbrook can do the same.”
Westbrook was far from done.
He’s an athletic freak that could still play at a high level for years to come.
However, teams would’ve been hesitant to make a run at him if they thought he wasn’t going to accept coming off the bench or would demand another massive contract.
Fortunately, that might not be the case anymore for the former MVP.