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Wizards' Brooks recalls coaching Westbrook, wishes him success

Wizards' Brooks recalls coaching Westbrook, wishes him success

On Wednesday night in Oklahoma City, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks will encounter what for so many years was his opponent's undesirable problem. He will for the first time compete against — and not with — Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, a transcendent superstar who defies convention at his position and, lately, the statistical norms of NBA history.

Westbrook has been described before as a walking triple-double, but never before has that nickname been more appropriate. The five-time All-NBA selection has been on a historic tear so far this season, averaging a triple-double through 19 games. 

Westbrook is putting up 30.9 points, 11.3 assists and 10.3 rebounds per contest. Those numbers aren't far off from the 1961-62 campaign of Oscar Roberston, who that year held a per game line of 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists to become the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season.

Westbrook has reached a new level statistically this year without having to share shot attempts with Kevin Durant, who moved on to join the Warriors in free agency. Westbrook is currently taking a career-high 23.7 shots per game. He leads the league in field goal attempts (451) and has 60 more than the next guy, Anthony Davis of the Pelicans.

This week, Brooks looked back at coaching Westbrook, including the early days of getting to know him before the Thunder made him the fourth overall pick in 2008.

"I was there when we brought him into his pre-draft workout. My first thought when we were working him through that workout was 'thank goodness I'm not an NBA point guard anymore' because there was no way I can stay in front of this guy. He was 19 years old and played nothing but two-guard in college at UCLA… but he averaged 15, 5 and 5 and that's not easy to do. Only a handful of guys, rookie point guards, were able to do that," Brooks recalled.

[RELATED: Scott Brooks embraces his return to Oklahoma City]

It was clear early in his career that Westbrook was not only a special athlete, a force of nature the league had not seen before at the point guard position, but that he was unusually versatile. He could rebound exceptionally well for his position, which has allowed him to become such a triple-double machine.

"The rebounding numbers that he's putting up now, I didn't anticipate that he would be able to average over 10, but he averaged five. He's been the best rebounding point guard in the league for a long time," Brooks said. "Russell is averaging a triple-double in nearly a quarter of the season. Nobody thought that there would be another with Oscar Robertson-type numbers in this league."

Brooks and Westbrook went through a lot with each other. They made the NBA Finals once and the Western Conference Finals five different times. Brooks was fired by the Thunder following the 2014-15 season and is now on the other side, but he has no ill-will towards his former point guard.

"I'm happy that he's successful. He took a lot of criticism, well we took a lot of criticism but some was probably deserving, but most wasn't. Give him all the credit. He's worked his butt off to be the player that he is and he's deserving what he's getting right now," Brooks said.

[RELATED: Gregg Popovich on consulting with Brooks]

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Report: NBA likely to use new All-Star format again, will discuss using it in G-League

Report: NBA likely to use new All-Star format again, will discuss using it in G-League

If you were a fan of the NBA's new format for the All-Star game, which featured a target score to decide the winner instead of a clock, you might be in luck. 

According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, the NBA is likely to use the target score format again in next year's All-Star game. The NBA's president of league operations Byron Spruell told Lowe it's a 'good assumption' we see this format again. 

In its maiden voyage, the target score was a smashing success. The NBA has struggled to make the All-Star game entertaining and intense enough for the best players in the world to try. By adding 24 points onto the leading team's score at the end of the third and saying, "First one to this number wins," it sparked the competitive fire in the league's biggest stars and made for an unforgettable basketball moment. 

The target score is very similar to the "Elam Ending," created by Ball State University professor Nick Elam. The Basketball Tournament, a winner-take-all event held over the summer, has used the Elam Ending for the last two years.

Chris Paul suggested using the format in the All-Star game to commissioner Adam Silver, and now the target score ending has a chance at making it to the G-League. 

Lowe also includes in the story that the NBA will discuss using the target score system in the G-League, the league's developmental league. However, concerns about making G-League play too different from play in the NBA make it unlikely for a full adaptation of the target score system. 

Spruell did say a possible first step would be using the system at the annual G-League Showcase, which usually takes place in December. 

To go even further down the rabbit hole of hypothetical changes to NBA games, the NBA will also reportedly discuss using target scores in the elimination rounds of a midseason tournament. In late December, the NBA propose massive schedule changes to the league's owners including shortening the regular season to 78 games and introducing a midseason tournament. 

The owners still have to approve the changes before any target scoring system can be implemented. 

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Wizards congratulate Marcin Gortat on retirement with tribute video

Wizards congratulate Marcin Gortat on retirement with tribute video

Following Marcin Gortat's retirement from basketball, the Wizards and Capitals made sure to congratulate him on wrapping up a 12-year career. 

Gortat spent five seasons with the Wizards from 2013-2018, averaging 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds during his time in D.C. He was a reliable roll man f next to John Wall and helped lead the team to four straight playoff appearances. 

After spending a short time with the Clippers last season, The "Polish Hammer" decided to retire earlier this week. He did not play in the NBA this year. 

Could there be a Gortat appreciation night at Capital One Arena sometime soon? Wizards fans probably wouldn't oppose. 

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