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OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER MEDIA CONFERENCE
April 25, 2019
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Q. In these last three post-seasons, is there a common thread that you've kind of seen carried out through the series?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: You said through a series or through --
Q. Each series, has there been a common theme that you've looked back on and said that's something that needs to be fixed?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: No. Teams are different. Personnel is different. The guys, we play a lot of different combinations, reasons why we lost.
Q. This particular series and this season, what do you think you guys need to do better coming back next season?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: We'll look at it, reevaluate, get some time to go back to the drawing board and see how we can be better.
Q. One of the big changes this season was adding Jerami Grant to the starting lineup. How do you feel that worked out for you guys?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Great. Jerami became a better player. Improved all year long, very consistent at what he was doing. I'm proud of the things he was able to do, especially coming into this year.
Q. What's your sense of how Paul George's shoulder injury affected the depth this season?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: I'm not sure. When Paul gets here you can kind of ask him about that. But Paul did an amazing job all year long and was consistent, and obviously the best player all year, and he did that for us and he did his part.
Q. How do you feel like you and PG took a step together this year, just playing together?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: I thought we did a good job of playing off each other, figuring out what is best for each of us, and I think, like I said before, ultimately the most important part is off the floor, creating a friendship and a brotherhood. The basketball stuff will take care of itself, but you only can play basketball for so many years, and after that, friendships and the things you create while you're playing is most important.
Q. Is there a sense of what you want to work on in the off-season?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: It'll come over time. We'll figure it out.
Q. Billy talked about how there was a respect and communication between you all that he liked this season and the seasons before. What have you thought about the relationship between you and Billy over the last four years?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: It's been good. You know, me personally, I've never had a problem with Coach Donovan, and we've always been straightforward with each other and always had a good communication of respect for each other's jobs and respect for how hard we both work at what we want best for this team. So it's been good.
Q. When you look back at your season, how much, if at all, did missing training camp affect getting into the rhythm of things and all that?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Oh, it doesn't matter. I don't practice in training camp anyway.
Q. During the playoff series, you would say that most players are dealing with some level of injury throughout it, but were you dealing with anything through that series, and is it something that you'd have to address in the off-season?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: It was all right.
Q. What's the process that you go through when you're struggling shooting from a particular area but teams are giving you that area to shoot from?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: There's no process. Shoot it. That's it.
Q. This year you didn't shoot as well as you've done in the past, but in the Playoffs you were really good at it. Did you just get in a rhythm?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: No, just changed some stuff up.
Q. Anything you can tell us that you changed up?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: No.
Q. Heading into the season, you guys talked about wanting to play with more pace and you finished sixth in pace. Defense had fallen off last year without Andre. I think you guys finished fifth. Were there some things that happened, some things that you guys tried to cultivate throughout the year to make those things possible?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Definitely. I mean, that's kind of what we stood on, personally just trying to figure out what's best for our team, our personnel. You've got to kind of see what defense you're able to play with the guys you have, the size, the length, the guys available to make your team the best it can be defensively, and that's what we tried to do.
Q. We've gone about five, six minutes in and nobody has brought up the triple-double, three straight years doing that. Have you made that sort of passÃ© where it's not a big deal anymore because you're able to do it so much?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: I just play, man. That's it. If it's passÃ©, so be it. It's okay. Let somebody else do it, or try to.
Q. What will your off-season be like in terms of just -- will it be like the others in terms of the work you do?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Last off-season I had one kid, this year I have three. No, it won't be the same. (Laughter).
Q. Do you kind of take a step back, you're 11 years into the league, do you do the same things, kind of give your body a break, or --
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: I do not do the same thing. I will not.
Q. You mentioned the children; not to make an excuse or anything, but does that have an effect on your preparation for a season?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: What?
Q. You having children, does that have an effect on preparation for a season and just how you've gone about getting ready for --
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: No, no. Family is the most important thing to me, always have, always will be. Like I said, basketball is a short period of your life. You only get to play for, whether it's 20 years, 10 years, two, seven, eight, whatever it is. But you have a life to live. You have kids. Me personally, I have other things that's more important to worry about. It doesn't change. To me it's all intact, my family, my preparation. We're all on the same page. But I do know what's priority.
Q. Do you plan to play for Team USA this summer?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Do I plan to play? Am I on the list? We'll see then. I'll make a decision when that comes about.
Q. I didn't know if you had thought about it.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: No, I haven't. I haven't yet. I'll make sure I'm on the list. They probably took me off. We've got to see. Maybe they took me off.
Q. I know during the season you mentioned that you have a talent for not paying attention to the noise or the talk around you, but what have the past few days been like in terms of that coming off the series and the way that y'all finish?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: What about it?
Q. Just people talking about the Lillard talk, the back and forth in the series.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: It doesn't change much, man, honestly. If you want to determine my career and what I've done over two, three games, you go ahead. That don't mean s--- to me. It doesn't. I'm going to wake up, like I told you before, three beautiful kids, I'm going to wake up and smile, be happy, enjoy my life. Doesn't change anything about -- talk about if I'm playing bad or who's better, who's not. I know who I am as a person, and that's the biggest thing I can say about myself. I know who I am. I know what I'm able to do. I know my capabilities. I know what I've done. I know what I can and can't do. So I'm okay with that. I'm okay with who I am. I'll just be blessed to wake up every day and enjoy my life. The talk about -- I don't even know what talk you're talking about, but whatever that is, you guys can keep talking about it, and I'm going to keep living my life.
Q. What can the team do to improve individually and also as a unit?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Wait, hold on --
Q. How do you all improve as a unit?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: You know, there's different ways that we can improve. Me personally, there's a lot of different ways. Obviously this year definitely could have played better. But there's room for improvement every year, and I'll always find a way to be able to come back better and figure out what's better for our team and what's best for our team at the time.
Q. The game has changed a lot even since you came into it, and I wonder if there's any -- do you feel like there needs to be any more emphasis on you as a jump shooter, as a three-point shooter? Do you need to get better at that?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Jump shooter or three-point shooter?
Q. Three-point shooter.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: There can be emphasis. You guys can talk about it, but I'm just going to continue doing what I'm doing and obviously find a way to pick and shoot better ones. But that's up to me. That's it.
Q. Other than jump shooting, what are some specific areas about your game that you want to improve coming into next year?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Everything. I always tell you that because I know I can do everything at a high level, so I always find ways to make sure that I'm able to do that. And that's one thing about me, is that -- and I think a lot of times, whether it's you guys or whoever it is, people across the world, when you do so much, you've got so much s--- you're doing throughout a game, whether it's defending, rebounding, passing. There used to be conversations if I was a ball hog, but now I lead the league in assists for the past three years or whatever it is, that's getting squashed out. So now the conversation is about shooting. Next year I'm going to become a better shooter. After that it'll be probably, f---, my left foot is bigger than my right one. Who knows. But to me that's why I know when you do so much with the game, got so much impact on the game, I expect a lot out of myself, put a lot of pressure on myself to become a very, very great player because I know that I'm able to do so much throughout a game to impact the game, impact winning. So that's why, back to your point, I don't really care what people say, what they think about me, because it doesn't really matter. I know what I'm able to do and know what I'm able to do at a high level every night, and nobody else can do what I can do on a night in, night out basis, and I truly believe that. If they could, I'm pretty sure they would. But I know for a fact that nobody can.
Q. Do you think it's kind of strange that you get criticized as much as you do, given how much success you've had?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: No, I don't, man. When you do so much at a high level, a lot of haters come. That's how life is, man. That's life, man. When you do so much, people going to try to pull and take away and try to take that away from you. But nobody can take away from me. I've been blessed, and I stay prayful, stay thankful to be able to do what I'm able to do, and nobody can ever take that away from me, regardless of what it is, how many stories are written, how many stats are put up, how many numbers are put up. Doesn't matter. I take too much pride, time, effort to be able to go out and compete and play hard every night, my body on the line. Can't take it away from me. I will never let anybody take it away. How many years you'll ask me, every year I'll tell you the same answers because I truly believe it, and it doesn't change the fact of anything.
Q. How was the first year playing with Dennis? Just talk about that experience.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: It was good. You know, Dennis did a good job of figuring out obviously what's the best way he can kind of fit and what's best for having to be successful. I think it was a learning process for all of us, and I think he did a good job of trying to figure it out as well as everybody else.
Q. When you look at your development since your rookie season, what are you most proud of?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: My development as a leader. I think leadership is the one thing that I've taken pride in and tried to figure out the best way to be able to lead guys into a position where I feel like they're most comfortable with their games, instill confidence in them, finding ways to make other guys better. That's my whole thing. And I feel like I've done a good job of that each year of making someone or people around me better players. Even if people leave, you know, they still become better players. So I feel like I try to make people better players as much as I can.
Q. Is there a certain teammate that you want to work out with this summer?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: I work out with all my teammates. Not one particular. I'll stay in touch with all my guys and communicate with them and create a relationship like I've done before. Nothing changes for me with that, and I'll do the same thing.
Q. Paul had a career year in a lot of ways, second in the league in scoring. What did you see from him in particular that had improved the most?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: He was aggressive. He came out with a mindset of he wanted to be the best, and he showed that. He did a good job of staying consistent and was aggressive scoring, defended at a high rate, doing what we needed for him to do for our team to be successful, and he did that.
Q. You were asked about it a lot since you've been here. Does it drive you, bother you to go out in the first round these three years?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Bother, yes. Drive? I guess, but I don't really need nothing to drive me to be who I want to be or to be where I want to be. Obviously me personally, I want to be able to become the best player I can be and obviously win a championship. Yeah, obviously I wouldn't want to be sitting here talking to you guys at the end of the season, but unfortunately that's what happened, and with that you've got to go to the drawing board, and me personally, I always look at myself for how I can be better, whether it's playing a better series, preparing better for the series, preparing better for the season. Obviously when you lose a series, everybody looks at the series and says, this is the reason why you lost. But that's not ultimately what happens.
Throughout a year there's different things that happen to you and to a team that can -- either you've got it and you're clicking or you're not. So there's a combination of a lot of things, but me personally, I just know that moving and going into next year, I'm going to just do what I need to do to make sure that I'm staying consistent at what I do and being better.
Q. Any one thing you can put to down the stretch the team not playing well? Anything you can put on why that happens?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: No, I can't. I can't. I don't know why that happened. Maybe we lost games or the team won games. I don't really know. That happens. I mean, to end the year we won six straight, but it was too late. Half the teams were already winning and they were winning at the same time we were winning, so can't really control that. You can only control what you can control, and that's it. That's all. That's what I believe in, in anything. You can control what's going on in this building. I can control that. I control myself. I control the way we come out to play. That's it. Everything else is really out of my control, out of my hands.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports