clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What will Billy Donovan Do with Russell Westbrook?

New, comments

Billy Donovan has sent 19 players to the NBA which begs the question "where are the point guards"?

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The day Billy Donovan was hired, I saw a bunch of fallacies; some of them I dealt with in part one of this series. Today I want to look at another reason some looked at this hire with excitement; the numerous players Billy Donovan "developed" that later went on to play in the NBA.

That list is impressive; seventeen NBA players in 19 years as a NCAA Head Coach is an amazing display of collegiate preparation for professional success in basketball. My hat’s off to him for having a good eye for talent, the ability to convince these young men and their parents that Florida was where they should be, as well as the ability to prepare these young fellas for the most elite basketball association in the world.

If I’m Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams or anyone other than Russell Westbrook, I’m pretty excited about this hire because it seems clear to me Donovan likes shooters and pick and roll guys and features them in his offense.

Yes that list is quite impressive…..and on the surface this list is pretty amazing but upon closer inspection of that list begs the following question;

Where are all the point guards?

Other than Jason Williams and Nick Calathes, the list is absent the one key position that Donovan should understand the best. If you recall, Donovan is the former Providence and New York Knicks point guard who played for Rick Pitino. Yet he hasn’t really developed a point guard who had the same NBA success as say Mike Miller, Al Horford, Joakim Noah and others on that very illustrious list.

Williams had a solid if uneven career that was derailed by the same sorts of things that messed up his college career, and Calathes is more well known for leading European basketball teams than NBA ones. Good but not great.

I really don’t know why he hasn't developed more of them either.

From watching Billy Donovan coach his Florida teams over the years, point guards are more facilitator-oriented then scoring-oriented, which should translate well to the current PG-driven NBA game.

It has been said many times that the NBA is a pick and roll league, and the Thunder are no exception to this premise. I really enjoyed watching Westbrook and Adams run the pick and roll towards the end of last season. Westbrook and Enes Kanter had good chemistry between them, and we all have seen the Westbrook to Durant side-pick and roll and the Westbrook to Ibaka pick and pop is something that we could see much more of in the season to come.

We also saw Russell Westbrook have his best offensive passing season ever, amassing eleven triple doubles and a 38.8 usage rate. Both were far and away tops in the league.

Russell the facilitator will absolutely work in the systems we’ve seen from Donovan over the years at Florida. That's the good Russ that can tear apart entire defenses by himself. However, I don’t know how Westbrook the out of control whirling dervish with five to ten turnovers while recording a triple double is going to work. That’s Billy Donovan’s problem now, and it is a problem that needs to be solved so that the Thunder can capitalize on their enormous offensive talents.

If I were Russell Westbrook, I would definitely find myself wondering how this coach is going to use me when he’s more known for having the type of offense that fits a specific skill set.

I suppose time will tell what, if anything, changes for the Thunder, but I’m sure Russell Westbrook hopes Billy Donovan is more like Scott Brooks and less like the University of Florida’s Donovan.