doclinkin wrote:If you give Russ a rim-running offensive rebounder/lob threat you convert many of his WTF jump passes and bad shots into assists & points. Ideally they are able to hit a jumper from above the FT line. If they pick/screen well then Beal and Bertans know how to get themselves open for his passes.
On the offensive end that suggests Thomas Bryant, who runs hard on every play and hits a solid % down low. Gafford has the raw tools on this end as well, plus he is a deterrent in defensive rim defense, but Bryant's decent range means his man may follow him outside giving Russ more room both to attack the rim and rebound any long misses on offense. Bryant's missed three becomes Russ' putback when there is no Big in the lane.
You'd want players in all positions who box out their man, even if they don't rebound. You need to give Russ lanes to jump in and grab it. He's going to go for it on offense, so will be out of position on transition defense, but if he does collect it often enough then you give a head start for your own transition attack, with your finishers outrunning the defense.
I'd want Hachimura to keep working his outside shot, sure, if he does so you can play him as a big SF, but wherever he plays I want him to figure out a finishing move down low. He has good hands to catch the pass, he needs to figure out how to score when Russ does find him. You want him to maximize his tweener aspect with inside/outside scoring depending on his match-up. Also, if he learned to set a hard pick, he could clear out players who ran into him. That's a solid individual.
I personally wish we had a coach who would run sets with Russ off the ball. With his energy he would run opponents ragged if he was in motion all game. If teams had to account for him while he ran past screens and we had a smooth passing Big who he trusted to deliver him the ball, we could run a reverse Pick and Roll with the Big taking the dribble hand off on a give and go as Russ cuts to the lane to catch the pass and finish. This is why I look at Neemias Queta as a nice passing Big. If Russ and Beal were both in motion, then no team would know who to guard at any given time. They couldn't just pack the lane and dare Russ to jack one up from long. If he knew he was going to get the ball back, and have easier finishes, maybe he would willingly give up some of his dribble time.
Outside shooters of course, especially if they add defense. True 3 and D like Bruce Bowen who set the model in San Antonio. If we had rugged defenders I think Russ' toughness and activity would inspire players to intimidate on this end. And maybe give Russ energy here as well. On defense he often ballhawks and cheats off his man to fight for rebounds instead, so you need long wing defenders who can cover for the holes he leaves when he is essentially playing power forward from the PG position.
So, yeah. You basically just need to build a good team. Strong at both ends, skilled and tough. From the coach to the last guy on the bench. I do think Russ may be willing to take a mentor role as his career extends. Veterans do learn over time. He seems to have embraced a teaching role here. He would just have to respect the coach we get, and have players who could make him look good by finishing his passes with points. If Russ is going to have the ball and dribble, still, you can develop offenses that give him passing targets by getting open, or clear lanes for him to attack the thing. But that is coaching and an innovative mind. Consider that he has had Brooks as a coach for most of his career. Donovan showed up and adjusted everything around him, turning him into the MVP. I think you CAN build a team around him. You just need what every other team needs: savvy competitive and efficient players that turn his mistakes into successes, and a coach who sets the team up to do that.
I dunno doc. I think every team that has had Westbrook has tried to do the same thing, but it hasn't really worked yet, at least not since he lost the ability to finish in the lane with reasonable efficiency.
I don't see Westbrook as being that useful off the ball. His man does not need to stick with him as he runs around screens, he can just stay in the paint and just keep an eye on Russ in case he dives to the rim (or sets a back pick for a teammate to dives to the rim).
The best way for Westbrook to help the team is for him to improve his catch-and-shoot 3-point shot. He has actually been half-decent at this this year, shooting 35.3%. (Last year, he shot 29.1% and the year before 32.1%) If he can get that up to 37% or so, it will make a massive difference because teams will need to respect him off the ball, which will open things up for everyone else.
I'd like to see him become more like late-career Jason Kidd. Play D, get rebounds, run a few pick-and-rolls but keep the usage rate down. His ability to create a pull-up shot at a roughly 38% FG% whenever he wants can be used at the end of the shot clock. We should try and run a San-Antonio type offense with Russ being our Tony Parker bail-out option if the offensive set didn't get us a good shot in the first 20 seconds of the shot clock.