As Scott Brooks and Russell Westbrook get set to reunite in Washington after seven years together with the Thunder, the Wizards' head coach recalled his first impressions of the now nine-time All-Star when they met for a pre-draft workout for the Sonics.
"We brought him in for a workout," Brooks told reporters Friday. "Putting him through the workout I just said, 'This kid, I've never seen a guy so dynamic as he showed me that day."
Brooks was just an assistant with the Sonics at the time and would take over as head coach of the Thunder early into Westbrook's rookie year, but what the young guard showed to him and Seattle's decision-makers was enough for them to use the No. 4 overall pick on him in the 2008 NBA Draft.
And not only that, but to move him over to point guard at the NBA level after playing most of his college career at shooting guard. It was one of the decisions that defined Brooks' first stint as a head coach in the NBA and it didn't come without risk. Switching a young player to a position with arguably the steepest learning curve at the NBA level could have stunted Westbrook's development, but it instead accelerated it.
"His professionalism, his toughness, his intensity, his leadership, his drive, his determination, there's a lot of similarities with Brad [Beal]," he said. "On top of all that, he's a pretty good basketball player but he'll provide a lot of things that we need."
Now, Westbrook and Brooks will join forces once again with Bradley Beal and a Wizards team aiming to get back into the playoffs after a two-year absence. In seven years together in Oklahoma City, Brooks and Westbrook only missed the playoffs in a typically loaded Western Conference twice.