During the final round of the NBA 2K tournament, Devin Booker offered praise for Houston Rockets star guard Russell Westbrook.
Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker recently took part in the league’s first ever players-only NBA 2K tournament, which spanned over the course of two weekends. Booker ultimately took home the crown, as he defeated his teammate Deandre Ayton in the championship round. What was interesting and ironic about Ayton and Booker is that they were two of only three NBA players in the tournament who selected the Houston Rockets.
Booker selected them in Game 1 of the championship round, which gave us all an opportunity to hear him express his thoughts on Russell Westbrook‘s work ethic. Russ is widely viewed as a fierce competitor and the ultimate hard worker, and Booker agreed with the reputation of the Houston Rockets star.
Booker stated, “They don’t work as hard as you Russ. They don’t work as hard as you.” These are interesting comments to hear from the Kentucky product, and he’s more than qualified to speak on this, which makes him even more credible.
Since entering the league, Booker has faced Russ 13 times, and Russ has gone 10-3. Booker has witnessed some of the best performances from The Brodie, including a 51 point triple-double and a 20-20 game from Russ in which he had 26 points and 22 assists. There were also three other games in which Russ dropped 40 and nearly had three additional triple-doubles.
In those three games, Russ had statlines of 43 points/14 rebounds/8 assists, 48 points/17 rebounds/9 assists, and 40 points/8 assists/ 12 rebounds. All in all, Russ has averaged 32.6 points, 10.7 assists, 10 rebounds, and two steals in the 13 games in which Booker has faced him.
The work ethic is a key component in The Brodie’s game, as he was viewed as a good second option to Kevin Durant when the two played alongside one another in OKC. It was also believed that Russ would struggle as he entered his 30s, as many perceived his game as being over-reliant on sheer athleticism, which was going to slow down as father time is always victorious.
However, Russ has debunked both premises, especially the second-fiddle one, as he won the MVP after KD left the Thunder, while also leading OKC to three consecutive playoff appearances after Durant’s departure. Regarding the age, Russ has proven that theory to be incorrect as well, as Russ turned 31 at the start of his first season with the Houston Rockets, and had a career year on several fronts.
Russ scored 20+ points in 34 straight games, and made 47.4 percent of his shots, which are both career highs for the 2017 MVP. Westbrook has continually proven his doubters wrong throughout his career, which he highlighted at the end of the 2018-19 season.
— Nate Feken (@TheGreat_Nate) April 25, 2019
There used to be conversations that I was a ball hog, but now I’ve led the league in assists for the past three years.
That’s getting squashed out, so now the conversation is about shooting. Next year I’ll become a better shooter, and after that…who knows?
I expect alot out of myself and put alot of pressure on myself to become a very, very great player. Because I know that I’m able to do so much to impact winning.
Early in Russ’s career, many around the league felt that he was a ball hog, and that he was taking shots away from Durant. At the time, it was believed that Durant left OKC because of this, which was unfair to Russ, and was later determined to be incorrect.
But The Brodie did indeed lead the league in assists for three consecutive seasons, following the exit of KD. This included the 2016-17 season in which he was the only All-Star from OKC, which is even more impressive.
Part of Westbrook’s work ethic and drive comes from his naysayers, which has fueled him to want to prove them wrong. From that standpoint, Russ has had to work harder than anyone else in the league, as there’s always been negativity surrounding him, for foolish reasons.
But either way it goes, it’s safe to say Booker is right; they don’t work like Russ.