In the Washington Wizard’s preseason finale facing the Detroit Pistons Saturday night, Russell Westbrook finally made his presence known as a Wizard in his debut. We didn’t expect to see him get going until the regular season began. He played only in the first half ending with eight points.
Westbrook gave his first impressions of playing with Washington. He mentioned that the most important part was the fact the team won Saturday night. Westbrook went on to say he thought the Wizards had a good pace and defended the ball well.
Having to adjust to the team on and off the court in such a short time is something we shouldn’t take lightly, since Westbrook seems to be in high spirits about it. One big aspect to building the team chemistry is getting to know the team as a whole.
“We have a team with a lot of guys from a lot of different places and to me which is very intriguing,” Westbrook said. “I also get a chance to learn a lot about who they are, their upbringing, things they like, they don’t like. To me that’s very intriguing as somebody coming in. We have a lot of interesting guys on the team with different journeys. That’s something that I want to continue to learn and learn about each of my teammates throughout the season.”
Head Coach Scott Brooks noticed a lot of Westbrook and the Wizards team engaging with one another on and off the court as well. He mentions that Westbrook just plays the right way and the Wizards seem to feed off that energy.
“He [Westbrook] teaches our young fellas the right thing. He’s great,” Brooks said. “He’s been nothing short of spectacular, what he tells the guys and how he coaches them and they listen. How he trains and how he looks at the game...it’s priceless. Our young players are going to be thankful in 10 years and realize what he’s done for them.”
One big thing was seeing Westbrook and Bradley Beal hit the floor together since it was long overdue since Washington traded for the 9-time NBA All-Star in the offseason. Many were just waiting to see them both connect with one another or just how the team meshed around them as a unit. Coach Brooks said it was great seeing Beal and Westbrook on the floor together.
“I liked the fact that they were looking for other players and not just playing back and forth,” he said. “Russ is going to find whoever’s open, he’s going to make the right play. And Brad’s the same way. There’s times in the game where you have to look for certain players and they know that as well. And that’s why the transition of the last two weeks have been seamless and it’s been great and it’s going to continue that way because they’re both about the same things: they compete.”
Westbrook wasn’t worried about Beal’s game one bit in terms of him playing his game. He knows once Beal got his rhythm there’s not many players who can stop him. That comes as a benefit for Westbrook because not having to worry about another teammate is a building of trust. For the Wizards organization, trust is definitely needed along with chemistry if a positive outcome is expected. In games where you wonder if you’re always going to be that player that has to take the shot does and can take a toll. Knowing Westbrook has that faith and trust with Beal can lead to great things in the long for Washington.
To add on to what Brooks said about Westbrook and Beal looking for other players. Westbrook’s first assist went to Thomas Bryant in the paint. Seeing him still have that awareness and of course “find whoever’s open” still hasn’t changed.
And being as though this is only from one preseason game together, it’s exciting to see what Westbrook and the Wizards can do together in the regular season.