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NBA Flashback: What the league looked like when Russell Westbrook was drafted

CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
Timeless

Russell Westbrook showing off his new Houston Rockets threads
Russell Westbrook showing off his new Houston Rockets threads

The Houston Rockets held a press conference earlier today to introduce their newest acquisition, former MVP Russell Westbrook.

So, it's more than official now. A few weeks ago, Russell Westbrook, who was supposed to be the longest-tenured active player of any NBA team this year, was traded to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Chris Paul and a couple of picks. Just a year before, when Paul George re-signed with Oklahoma City, it seemed like Russell was never going to leave the team and was set to retire as a Thunder.

They still had 'unfinished business' after all.

But then Kawhi came home and signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. And then recruited Paul George with him.

It just made sense for the eight-time All-Star to ask to be moved and for OKC to finally have a reason to trade Brodie and have a complete rebuild.

It will definitely feel weird to see Westbrook next season sporting another jersey that isn't the Thunder. After all, he was the franchise's cornerstone for 11 long years. But what did the NBA look like the year Westbrook was drafted by OKC?


There was still no Oklahoma City Thunder

Russell Westbrook, 2008 NBA Draft Portrait
Russell Westbrook, 2008 NBA Draft Portrait

OKC was still technically the Seattle SuperSonics, which makes Westbrook the last ever player to be drafted by the Seattle franchise.

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In July 2008, just roughly a month after Seattle participated in its last ever NBA Draft, the team moved to Oklahoma and officially became the Oklahoma City Thunder. They became the third NBA team to relocate in just a decade, after Memphis Grizzlies (Vancouver Grizzlies) and New Orleans Pelicans (New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets).


Chris Paul had just had a phenomenal season, finishing just behind Kobe in the MVP race

Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets against the Indiana Pacers
Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets against the Indiana Pacers

This is ironic, since 11 years later, the Rockets would ship off Chris Paul to OKC for a revamp at the point guard position.

Before Westbrook was even drafted in the NBA, Chris Paul was considered the clear 'point god', averaging 21.1 points, 11.6 assists, and 2.7 steals. He was runner-up to Kobe Bryant in the MVP race, who eventually led the Lakers to the Finals.


Boston Celtics had just won their 17th title, defeating the Lakers in six games

Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers, 2008 NBA Finals
Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers, 2008 NBA Finals

Paul Pierce won Finals MVP, but extremely monumental in the title run was Kevin Garnett, whom the Celtics had just traded for. Interestingly, the trade also set the record at the time for the largest trade for one player in NBA history. Boston got Garnett from the Timberwolves for Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, two 2009 first round picks (which turned out to be the fifth and sixth picks), and cash considerations.

Talk about instant chemistry.


Golden State Warriors won 48 games...and still missed the playoffs

Baron Davis and the Golden State Warriors in 2008
Baron Davis and the Golden State Warriors in 2008

Ah yes, the "Wild, Wild West." Despite the We Believe Warriors' impressive playoff run in the prior season, they failed to clinch a playoff berth in 2008. They also set the record for having the second-most wins by a non-playoff team, the first being the 1971-1972 Phoenix Suns with 49 wins.

This season record was better than even the 4th seeded Cleveland Cavaliers in the East. Meanwhile, all the playoff teams in the West had at least 50 wins.


Houston Rockets defeated the Golden State Warriors on 29 January 2008 and started a 22-winning streak

Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, and Ron Artest leading the Houston Rockets
Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, and Ron Artest leading the Houston Rockets

In 2008, the Houston Rockets set the record for the fourth-longest winning streak in NBA history at 22 consecutive wins. They eventually capped off the season with 55 wins, good enough to be the fifth seed in the West.

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