One of the top priorities Russell Westbrook has set for himself as he begins his tenure with the Wizards was to make the game easier for Bradley Beal.
It's not hard to imagine how he'll do that from a basketball perspective. Westbrook is one of the most gifted playmakers in the league and the gravity he has on his dribble penetration should open things up for a player like Beal who faced at least two defenders at all times last season.
But if Westbrook helps Beal hit a new level as a player, the job wouldn't be complete to him. Westbrook plans to help Beal shoulder the leadership responsibility on this young Wizards team as well, solidifying their partnership on the court and in the locker room.
"That's the best part about having two guys that understand and have been around, understand the game and know the ins and outs," Westbrook told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller. "To be able to [lead] on a night in, night out basis may not be something that [Beal] wants to do but that's why I feel like I'm here, to make sure I bring it every single day."
From the outside, it's apparent that Beal and Westbrook have different leadership styles. Beal's the more reserved, lead by example type while Westbrook is the outspoken, "you better bring it or you'll hear from me" kind of leader. Both are effective, and it's possible they'll complement each other well in a place with different personalities from varied backgrounds.
"Brad has been amazing in the sense of every day he's coming trying to get better," Westbrook said. "He's been quiet but at the same time he's been leading where he feels most comfortable, and that's the most important part.
My job is to make the game and everything easy for him, and that's what I'm going to do for him," he said.
The Wizards haven't had a ton of time to coalesce before their season opener on Wednesday. That's just the reality of trading one star point guard for another three days into training camp.
Still, Westbrook likes what he's seen so far out of his new teammates, and most of it has to do with their makeup.
"I like where we are," Westbrook said. "I think confidence is huge, it's going to be huge for us. I think we figured some things out, how we can play, what type of style we need to play to be able to compete. We've got a lot of guys on this team that can compete, and that's all that matters. You're going to win some games, you'll lose some, but nine times out of 10 if you compete and play hard, the wins will outweigh the losses."
Tune in at 6 PM to NBC Sports Washington on Wednesday for complete coverage of the Wizards season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers.