For the most part, Russell Westbrook has picked up right where he left off last season when he averaged a triple-double and won his first MVP award with the Thunder. He's already got two triple-doubles this season, and is averaging 19.3 points, 11.7 assists, and 9.3 rebounds per game.
One area where he's really struggling, however, is at the free throw line. A career 82.2 percent shooter from the stripe, Westbrook is just 10 of 18 (55.6 percent) from the line through the first four games. The reason? The NBA changed the delay of game rules over the summer. In an effort to speed up the game, the referees now assess a delay of game violation if a player goes past the 3-point line in between foul shots.
Doing just that has been Westbrook's routine for over a decade. And as he explained after Wednesday night's win over the Pacers, not being able to do his usual routine is messing him up.
Westbrook's full explanation:
I used to shoot and walk back behind the 3, and I'm not allowed to do that because of this new rule. I've been doing that since high school. Just gotta figure it out, figure out a different routine where I can take some time, take a deep breath, and figure it out. But I'll be alright.
The general idea of the new delay of game rules are messing up Westbrook's free throw percentage may sound a little goofy, but his explanation makes perfect sense. So much of having success as a basketball player is about feeling comfortable and being in rhythm. Especially on free throws where so much of the shot is mental. For Westbrook to lose the comfort of a routine he's been doing for over a decade, it's easy to see why that would throw him off.
But with how talented he is, and how good of a free throw shooter he's been in the past, he should be able to solve this problem without too much trouble.