Why Brooks thinks Westbrook can lift role players' confidence


By no means is Scott Brooks known for his playing days in the NBA. As an undersized, undrafted point guard, Brooks knew his role wasn't to dominate games, but instead to be a sparkplug off the bench. 

As a role player, though, Brooks felt the impact star power can have on the rest of the roster. Whether it was as a rookie on the Charles Barkley-led 76ers or during his time backing up Kenny Smith on a Hakeem Olajuwon-led Rockets side that went on to win the 1994 title, Brooks has seen the effects first hand.

"I played with a lot of players, and was never great, but to me, all the great players made me feel better than I was," Brooks told media on Saturday. 

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Now reunited with one of the most athletic point guards the game has ever seen, Brooks thinks Russell Westbrook can help the Wizards role players' confidence. From helping Thomas Bryant decipher when to roll and when to pop to making sure shooters like Davis Bertans know he'll get an on-time pass when he's open, Brooks said Westbrook's leadership will help a lot. 

"Another thing that he does at an extremely high level is he creates confidence in players," said Brooks. " I think with Russell, and now with Brad, we have two guys who are going to help our players need that and fill those voids that they'll have at times because it's a hard league to excel in and play well. But you have two guys like we have now, that are really going to really benefit from their intensity, love for the game, and their professionalism."


On Sunday, that leadership was exemplified when Brooks spoke of Westbrook's training habits on his first day of practice. 

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With no slight to former franchise centerpiece John Wall, even at age 32 Westbrook's MVP-caliber play can help inexperienced players realize they have a better shot at winning than they've had the past two seasons missing the playoffs. 

It's not only about his on-court performances that help raise teammates' confidence. Westbrook continuing to put in the work first - just as he did with Brooks during their days together in Oklahoma City - will be paramount in helping the Wizards take that next step. 

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"This is what I do. I’m not paying it forward, I still do it," Westbrook said. "I hope it brings something to follow and look up to leadership that’s a huge part of it and who I am. I strive to be among the best leaders in the game not only on the floor but off the floor. Things people can follow and learn from."