Back in 2008, Kevin Durant had played his first season with the then Seattle Supersonics. They were in a good position to add more pieces to create a winning team and that year they got the 4th overall pick in the NBA draft, which they used to select Russell Westbrook, who would become the perfect partner for KD in Oklahoma City.
The person behind that decision was Troy Weaver, the new general manager of the Detroit Pistons. Weaver had joined the Thunder just a few weeks before the draft but he knew the player he wanted to take as soon as he saw him. KD talked with The Athletic, where he recalled how Weaver discovered and fell for Westbrook the first time he saw the UCLA product.
The Thunder were questioned for selecting Westbrook No. 4 overall in the 2008 NBA Draft. But Weaver, who joined the Thunder in May of 2008, just weeks before the draft, saw something in Westbrook.
“He (Weaver) told me he was going to a workout and Russ was there two hours early, sleeping in his car,” Durant said. “He was like, ‘Yeah, this is the guy.’
“That’s a cool story to know because you never know what triggers these GMs to fall in love with a player. For him to point that out to me shows that he enjoys blue-collar, hardworking guys. I appreciated that time when we spent two or three minutes together here and there to just talk about the game, talk about how he viewed players. That really shaped how I viewed the game outside of just hoopin’. I attribute a lot of that to Troy.”
There is no doubt that Russ made a good impression with Weaver, who didn’t hesitate to draft him a couple of weeks after his first encounter. Westbrook went to become one of the biggest idols in the Thunder history, creating a great duo with KD from 2008 through 2016, taking the team to the 2012 NBA Finals.
After he finished his job with OKC, he’s now trying to bring success to the Pistons. Perhaps he’ll find the new Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the future and do the same thing he did with the Thunder.