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#pounditWednesday, January 20, 2021

David Fizdale shares great pre-draft story about Russell Westbrook, Michael Beasley

Russell Westbrook

Had NBA scouts known eight years ago what they know now about Russell Westbrook, it’s possible the Oklahoma City Thunder star would have been the top overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. And if the story Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale told this week is true, teams should have seen it coming.

Fizdale was an assistant coach with the Miami Heat in 2008. The Heat selected Michael Beasley at No. 2 overall that year behind Derrick Rose. O.J. Mayo went third, and then Westbrook at No. 4. When asked Thursday if Westbrook seems to be playing with an extra chip on his shoulder this season, Fizdale said it’s nothing different from what he saw in 2008.

“I thought he was already on his way to this,” Fizdale said. “I’ll never forget the year they were drafted, not to call out (Beasley), but one day we had to drag Beas out of the bed in Vegas to get him to the gym to work out. Russell Westbrook had already been in that same gym for two hours, full sweat, and he asked Beas, ‘Where you been?’

“It was like oh man, is this how this kid really is? He went another hour going at the speed you see him play. What I’m seeing now is just a byproduct of the work this kid has put in.”

Sure, Rose won an NBA MVP award and was one of the best point guards in the NBA for a bit, but he has not been able to stay healthy. Anyone with half a brain would take Westbrook over him right now. And Beasley and Mayo? Forget about it.

Does Westbrook have a chip on his shoulder? Just have a look at some of his past dealings with the media, and you’ll have your answer. Is that chip now even bigger with Kevin Durant having skipped town? Probably, but Fizdale’s story is another reminder that it has always been there.

H/T Pro Basketball Talk

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