LAS VEGASFor all of the gloom and doom in the Windy City about Derrick Roses recovery, in blistering hot Sin City, one of the All-Star point guards closest NBA peersboth in terms of their off-court relationship and similar styles of playhas no such concerns. Oklahoma Citys Russell Westbrook, while participating in USA Basketball training camp for the upcoming Olympics in London, insisted that not only will Rose recover from his devastating torn ACL injury, hes very confident that his close friend and usual offseason workout partner will continue to raise the bar.
Certain things happen, Westbrook said Wednesday, before Team USAs last practice in Las Vegas before their Thursday-night exhibition contest against the Dominican Republic. He works so hard to try to get himself right that I know hell come back right, come back stronger and come back better, so I dont think it will be an issue.
Westbrooks faith in Rose aside, the Thunder All-Star point guard acknowledged that the Chicago native is missing out on a crucial developmental opportunity with the Olympic team.
This is a great opportunity. Im just blessed to have the opportunity to play with this group of guys, he said. I know if he was healthy, hed be here right along with me.
In the wake of Westbrooks strong NBA season, it would have been hard to keep him off Team USA. But if Rose was healthy and was added to a group of point guards that also includes Clippers All-Star Chris Paul and newly re-signed Nets floor general Deron Williams, it would have been tough to keep all four elite players on the team. Team USA assistant coach Nate McMillan, who not only coached Rose on the gold medal-winning World Championships team in 2010, but against him in the NBA while he guided the Portland Trail Blazers, concurred.
He had an opportunity in 2010 to play and hes one of the few that has experience in international competition, to have the opportunity to play with these guys and get better, McMillan told CSNChicago.com Thursday. We miss him and it would have been a tough decision on whether he would have been healthyand a good tough decisionwhat do we do with Rose here?
McMillan believes Roses experience in 2010 truly benefited him with the Bulls, as evidenced by his subsequent MVP campaign.
But missing out, we feel that all of our guys over the last two tournaments have gotten better and gone into the NBA season and played better, and what it forces guys to do here is youve got to adapt, youve got to adjust to becoming a team and whether thats a lesser role you have to take, youve got to do whatever it takes to win ballgames. So, the guys really learn leadership, they learn chemistry and the importance of becoming a team to have success because they all are talented, but they need to become a team, he explained. Just the maturity. Hes gone through a lot. The experiences hes had to deal with. When we had him in 2010, we knew he was unbelievable on the offensive end of the floor, but defensively, he did a real nice job for us, picking up, pressuring the ball. At that time, he was working on his jump shot, looking to take it and became a threat from the three-point line. So, hes a motivated player, knows that he needs to continue to improve his game and has become one of the top point guards in our league.