Westbrook bounding up rookie ladder

Thunder's rookie guard making a major impact in unexpected ways

Originally Published: March 11, 2009
By Eric Neel |

He plays for a team you forget even exists and his highlight reel is only a fraction of the size of Derrick Rose's, but don't sleep on Oklahoma City Thunder rookie point guard Russell Westbrook.

[+] EnlargeRussell Westbrook
Sam Forencich/Getty ImagesWestbrook is grabbing offensive boards at an historic pace for a rookie guard.

As the third-leading scorer among rookies, and currently boasting a PER of 16.06 at age 20, Westbrook has moved right alongside Rose at the head of the class in our colleague David Thorpe's Rookie Watch. Thorpe loves Westbrook's confidence: "It's like he knows he and his team are going to be special," he wrote after the former UCLA slasher posted his first NBA triple-double (17/10/10) in a win over Dallas on March 2.

Eric Neel | email

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Eric Neel is a senior writer for and ESPN The Magazine.