Brooks almost seemed eager to bestow the label on his player as the coach addressed reporters at the team's media day.
"I believe Russell is the best point guard in basketball," Brooks said, unprompted. "That's happened over time. I've seen Russell every practice, every game, every film session, and he's really put a lot of time into being the best point guard in basketball."
Westbrook certainly has a strong case, but the point guard position is as deep as it has ever been. Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Tony Parker and John Wall, among others, are pretty stiff competition.
As you'd expect, though, Westbrook concurred with his coach's statement.
"I do," he said. "I'm very honored to hear him say that, but that's how I feel. I mean, I don't know what to tell you."
Westbrook has never been short on confidence, playing with a brash sense of self-assurance despite occasional outspoken criticism. Even playing alongside as prolific a player as Kevin Durant, Westbrook rarely hesitates when it comes to putting his mark on a game.
"I've felt that since I got in the league," Westbrook said. "I mean, that's my mindset. As a rookie, I came in and I felt like I was the best player on the floor every time I stepped on the floor. That's just my mindset. That's the way I've played since college. It's not just this year or last year. It's how I think when I get on the basketball floor."
Westbrook has always been battling against traditional positional concepts, playing as a scoring point guard who often prefers to shoot first -- and second -- and pass third. But he has found the balance between scoring and creating much better.
Despite a major setback with three knee procedures in a nine-month span, Westbrook had maybe his most explosive season yet in 2013-14, averaging 21.8 points, 6.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game before cranking it up to 26.7 points, 8.1 assists and 7.3 rebounds in 19 playoff games. He had three triple-doubles last postseason. No other player even had one.
In ESPN.com's #NBARank project last season, Westbrook was dubbed the second-best point guard behind Paul.
While Paul has a sparkling reputation and would probably be the No. 1 PG for most people, Westbrook does have decent credentials to back up his coach's comment. He has averaged at least 20 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game the past four seasons.
The only other player in the league to do that? LeBron James.
Westbrook has won 36 playoff games. Paul (22), Curry (nine) and Lillard (four) have combined to win 35.
The one thing Westbrook lacks on his résumé, though, is the obvious -- a title.
"We know what it takes to win games, we know what it takes to get to the top, but we don't know what it feels like to win a championship," Westbrook said. "There are steps you have to make as a unit, and I'm pretty sure we're going to make those."