D.J. Augustin and Russell Westbrook are widely considered the third and fourth best point guards of the 2008 NBA Draft after Derrick Rose and Jerryd Bayless. NBA-Draft.com takes a deeper look at this draft position battle…
Former University of Texas point guard D.J. Augustin and former UCLA combo guard Russell Westbrook are likely names to be called in the first 13 picks of the 2008 NBA Draft, but their exact draft positions vary according to sources. So which sophomore is better?
This past season, Augustin earned Consensus First Team All-American honors as a sophomore. This 5'11 ˝" guard is a great shooter and an even better playmaker. He averaged 6.7 assists in 35 games as a freshman, and 5.8 per game this past season. This drop is not due to a decrease in performance, but to the increased role Augustin accepted. Without scoring machine F Kevin Durant by his side, Augustin dealt with sharp shooter G A.J. Abrams, wing F Damion James and F-C Connor Atchley. Augustin led the Longhorns all the way to the Elite 8 almost single-handedly. He ran the offense to perfection- stopping the fast break to set up the half-court offense at all the right times and making few mistakes while doing so. He lowered his turnovers per game from 3.3 as a freshman to 2.8 as a sophomore.
Augustin was one of the best, if not the best, passer in the nation last season. He would thread passes through the smallest of openings and set up teammates on a consistent basis. His offensive awareness is tops in the nation.
Augustin looked very good this past season as he added quite a few moves to his offensive repertoire. He increased his scoring average by almost 5 point per game through a variety of dribble-drive moves and penetration, and using ball screens to create an open shot. His three-point shooting percentage dropped from 44.1% to 38.1% as a result of being closely and physically guarded by the opposing team's best defender as well as facing constant double-teams in the half-court setting. Augustin plays with poise and confidence at the point. He is extremely quick with the ball and can finish any play with his smooth jump shot, or floaters in the lane.
Augustin's skill set will allow him to gain immediate playing time as a back-up point guard. The major question facing him going into the 2008 Draft concerns his height- is he tall enough to be a starting point guard in the NBA? Orlando's G Jameer Nelson and Toronto's G T.J. Ford, both started for their respective teams in the Playoffs this past season and both are listed at 6'0" like Augustin.
Russell Westbrook is more of a combo guard than Augustin, due to his height and athleticism. At the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp, Westbrook measured in at 6'3 ˝" with a 6'7 ˝" wingspan. This guard also posted one of the lowest lane-agility drill times at camp too. His size, length and quickness were reasons for Westbrook being named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year this season. He averaged over a steal and a half a game while leading UCLA in assists per game (4.3) and ranking third in scoring (12.7). Westbrook is still raw offensively but has shown flashes of his ability- 21 points on 10-13 shooting against Arizona and 22 points on 10-19 shooting against Memphis in the Final Four.
However, Westbrook looks more like an athletic shooting guard who happens to be able to play some point guard. His unselfishness allows him to play either guard spot. He had eclipsed 5 assists only four times in Pac-10 play, but perhaps this is due to backcourt mate Darren Collison handling the ball. Either way, Westbrook is an exceptional athlete who is still learning to play the point guard position.
Westbrook is an explosive athlete and has outstanding upside. He can handle and pass the ball extremely well. He is one of the quickest players in the nation which allows him get by defenders with ease, and use his leaping ability (36 ˝") and length to finish at the rim.
Either guard could go as early as #6 to New York or possibly as late as #16 to Philadelphia. Most likely, both guards will be gone by #11 to Indiana or even #12 Sacramento. Who goes first? It depends on team need and what type of guard they are looking for. Augustin is the complete point guard- he is a true leader who can create offensively whether for his teammates or for himself. He can hit the big shot or make the big pass. Westbrook is the lock-down defender with tremendous upside offensively. He is still learning both guard spots, but will be able to play either the 1 or 2 in the NBA. With a run-and-gun offense, Westbrook would most likely be the first pick, but with more of a half-court offense, Augustin would be the better leader.
In their only head-to-head meeting this season, Texas won 63-61. Look for UCLA to revenge that loss by winning the battle of draft position of the third and fourth point guard as combo athlete Russell Westbrook projects to go before the smaller, true point guard, D.J. Augustin.