In today’s edition of our Thunder Basketball Countdown to Tip-off, we dig a little deeper than normal to find some significance for the number 43. Last season, Russell Westbrook made just a tick over 43% of his shot attempts when his defender was within four feet of him. While this stat sounds like some serious cherry-picking, let’s take a look at why this is important.

If you know anything about Westbrook, you know that he has no issue with taking essentially any possible shot on the court. Because of what he is capable of doing in open space, defenders try to pressure him as much as they possibly can, but even tight defense cannot stop the reigning MVP from getting to the basket.

Overall, Westbrook shot 42.5% last season, so having a defender within immediate proximity did not affect this percentage negatively. His percentages based on distance of the nearest defender were all fairly close no matter how far away the pressure was, but for him to be so consistent when dealing with intense defensive pressure is more proof of his ability to finish his shots no matter what the situation.

Even more than Westbrook’s ability to deal with defensive pressure, his ability to handle the weight of carrying a team, and even a city, on his shoulders is unparalleled across the league. Hopes are high for the upcoming season, and with the Brodie at the helm running the show, the sky is the limit.

Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.