Russell Westbrook is the Most Valuable Player Award winner. He is a regular All-Star (nine times in 12 seasons) and will almost be convinced that when his career ends, he will be the first Ballot Hall of Famer. He led the league in scoring twice and scored once. 43 points in NBA Finals game. He turned 32 years old last month and if all goes well, he should have several All-Star seasons.
It is a basketball resume that many players dream of but only a small handful receive.
So why is Westbrook, who was traded to the Washington Wizards this week from John Wall and Houston, his third team in three years. This is almost unheard of for the former MVP. This also happened for Derrick Rose (MVP of 2011), but his on-court productivity was severely hampered by injuries. Shaquille O’Neill (2000) and Moshe Malone (MVP in 1979, 1982 and 1983) also played in three different teams over three years, but it was in the fluctuating years of their careers, not their heights. .
Westbrook, still in his prime and remarkably durable, is one of the most divisive NBA stars in recent decades, even more after the up-and-down year of last season with the Rockets. He is the latest in a long line of stars, where analysts and fans have questioned whether his playing style is conducive to winning a championship like Alan Iverson (who won the MVP in 2001).
Westbrook’s traditional figures and accolades are popping. But as statistics have evolved in recent years, some advanced numbers have not been consistent. Perhaps no star player is more of a lightning rod than Westbrook. Is she a superstar? Or does he accumulate statistics at the cost of victory and his teammates? Certainly, their counting statistics (usually mention points, rebellion, and aid) are elite. But why is that not reflected in advanced analytics?
Here’s a look at some of those numbers and debates around them
Oklahoma City Triple-Doubles
2016-2017: 31.6 points, 10.7 rebates, 10.4 assists; 42 triple-doubles
2017-2018: 25.4 points, 10.1 rebates, 10.3 assists; 25 triple-doubles
2018-2019: 22.9 points, 11.1 rebates, 10.7 assists; 34 triple-doubles
No statistic is more commonly associated with Westbrook than triple-doubles (games in which a player reaches double digits in three categories; usually points, rebellion, and assists).
When a player has one of these, it is considered a remarkable achievement. She westbrook Average The triple-double was notable for the entire 2016–17 season, given that the only other player to achieve a feat in NBA history was Oscar Robertson of the Cincinnati Royals, who did so in 1961–62. After matching Robertson’s might, Westbrook completed an exclamation point by doing so in each of the next two seasons.
That three-season stretch with the Thunder is – on paper – the biggest run by a player in NBA history. People assumed that Robertson’s feat would be impossible to match in modern sports, but Westbrook made it easy.
Critics said the plan employed by coach Billy Donovan, which called on Westbrook’s teammates to leave the rebels for Westbrook, boosted Westbrook’s numbers. Westbrook was accused of being a “state-padder” who followed up the triple-doubles on the win. Critics alluded to ending the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs in three seasons, with Westbrook averaging a triple-double as evidence. He also notes that the triple-double is an arbitrary figure: one can score 35 points, grab 9 rebounds and 19 assists and will not be considered a triple-double.
Do critics have a point?
It is actually more complicated than that, at least from the perspective of numbers.
During the regular season, the Thunder had a significantly higher winning percentage, with Westbrook achieving a triple-double when he was not.
Team record when Westbrook gets triple-double
2016–17 Thunder: 33–9; .785 win percentage
2017-18 Thunder: 20–5; 0.800
2018-19 Thunder: 23–11; 0.676
2019-20 Rocket: 5–3; .625 win percentage
In the 2016–17 and 2017–18 seasons, when the Thunderbolks received a triple-double, the Thunder went 53–14 (a .791 win percentage); 65-win pace in an almost 82-game regular season. In both of those years, the Thunder had a losing record when they played Westbrook, but could not find a single. In the 2016–17 season, Westbrook’s MVP of the Year, the Thunder were 13–26 in those games.
For the 2018–19 season, Westbrook’s final season at Oklahoma City, the Thunder went 23–11 (a .676 win percentage) when Westbrook had a triple-double, and played 21–18 games in Westbrook, but did not get one (. 538 win percentage). They were only 5-4 when Westbrook did not play.
But Westbrook’s approach did not at all make for a great offense in Oklahoma City. In two of the three seasons he averaged a triple-double, the Thunder had a below average offense, and were Tied for eighth in second.
Number beyond number
Where Westbrook is hounded the most by his critics is for his inability as a scorer. He is a terrific outside shooter for a guard with a career mark from a 3-point range of just 30.5 percent. In his lone season with Houston, he shot 25.8 percent. In today’s speed and space NBA, not being a passive shooter can become a barrier to crimes.
In addition, Westbrook needs a lot of shots to get the points he makes. His real shooting percentage – a measure of efficiency that takes into account 3-pointers and free throws – has been below average for most of his career. It stands at 53 percent, while last year’s league average, for example, Was 56.5 percent.
A contrast appears between the traditional numbers of the West and how some advanced figures view Westbrook.
For example, last year, Westbrook provided 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7 assists per game and shot 47.2 percent from the field. This was enough to make him an All-Star and All-NBA third team.
However, Westbrook’s win is shared per 48 minutes – a figure that attempts to show how much value a player brings to his team per minute, extrapolated to a regulation NBA game – paints a different picture. At .098, Westbrook was ranked In the 101st league. For his career, Westbrook has been in the top 10 just 10 times in this measure, and Not since his MVP season.
Does Westbrook hold back his teammates?
Westbrook has played with several A-list NBA stars: Paul George, James Harden, and Kevin Durant. He will now join Bradley Beal, who finished second in the NBA in points per game last season. Westbrook, however, can only succeed when he controls the offense with the ball in his hands. His career usage rate – a measure of how many percent of a player’s team plays – 32.7 percent – Second largest in NBA history. The optimal modern superstar can deliver production as efficiently as possible. Westbrook was never charged with efficiency.
But it should be noted: George, Harden and Durant attempted to play next to Westbrook. Last year, Harden led the NBA in scoring and put together one of the best NBA regular seasons in history. In 2018–19, George as Westbrook’s partner in Oklahoma City, his best year so far (28 points per game) and finished third in MVP voting. Durant won four scoring titles as a player of Westbrook’s team and the pair led the Thunder to the NBA Finals. Durant also won the 2013–14 MVP with Westbrook as his team, with the warning that Westbrook lost 36 games that season and the games he played had a higher usage rate than Durant.
So what is happening in Washington?
Westbrook was actually alive in the second half of last season, before faltering in the playoffs. After the All-Star break, Westbrook tallied 27.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.7 assists in 27. 55.7 Game on true shooting. Even he shot 37.5 percent on 3-point attempts.
He can clearly still play at elite level and his pairing with Bradley Beal would make for an intriguing combination. The Wizards went 25–47 last season in a weak conference. Westbrook should add, at the very least, keep Wizard in playoff contention. But can they make real noise in the playoffs? The recent history of Westbrook suggests that no.