Russell Westbrook continues to divide NBA fans opinions, some say he’s a fantastic talent that doesn’t deserve the amount of hate he receives, others say he’s overrated, self-centred and doesn’t play well with others. I agree with both sides on certain things, I love Russ, I think he’s a fantastic player and growing up he was one of my idols. However, since growing up, I’ve been noticing more and more flaws in his game.
Growing up, he was a kid’s dream. He could do everything, attack the rim, pass the ball, his rebounding was fantastic and it wouldn’t surprise you to see that he managed another triple-double. Don’t get me wrong, achieving the numbers he does on the box score is brilliant and as a kid that’s all you look at. When you dive deeper into the stats, however, you see that he only achieves those numbers because everything flows through him. He only manages to score the number of points he does, because he shoots twenty-four times each game. He can’t shoot threes and that’s probably the most important skill in the modern era league and the most important thing, he doesn’t play well with other talents.
It’s not Russ’ fault that he doesn’t play well with others, he doesn’t go out there each night to sabotage someone’s career but he ends up doing so. It’s clear to see that Russ plays better when he isn’t playing with other talents. James Harden, this year’s MVP, left OKC and look at him now, probably one of the best isolation players the league has ever seen. He didn’t want to leave OKC because of Russ, he has said multiple times that he loves Russ and loves playing with Russ. Victor Oladipo has become an All-Star since leaving Russ and has been phenomenal with the Pacers this season, however, he was suppressed when playing with Russ.
Going onto to this season and Russ is ruining PG13, it’s clear to see that they have no chemistry with each other. They are one of the worst power pairings in the league this season and if Paul George wants to make a legend out of himself, he has to move away from Russ and OKC. The thing that hasn’t helped these two, is the fact Russ keeps on shooting threes when he can’t make them. There have been so many chances when Russ can either pass to PG for an easy two points, yet he tries to fix his three-point shooting and the opportunity goes to waste. If Russ passed to PG13 more, instead of trying to fix his three-point shooting, we wouldn’t be talking about George leaving, we would be talking about OKC being a dark horse for the Championship this season.
Even though I have constantly bashed him throughout this article, Russ is still a fantastic player, who deserves more respect than he currently gets. He was last year’s MVP, he has consistently performed at a high level, even if he stops his teammates from doing the same. He constantly finds himself in the All-Stars team and you can’t name many players better than him, that are still playing today.
He holds the record for the most triple-doubles in a single season, with forty-two and he is 4th on the all-time triple-double leaders, with a career total of ninety-seven. He just needs to understand, that if he stops shooting threes and passes to PG a little more, no one could kick up a fuss about him. Just look at their win against the Suns and before you say it, yes, I know it’s the Suns. He didn’t shoot a single three-pointer in the game and they blew Phoenix out. He still managed to get twenty-seven points, eight rebounds, and nine assists, whilst PG went and scored twenty-one points. If someone can just tell Russ to leave the three-point shooting to Steph and co. then OKC, Russ, and PG can all prosper together rather than the past reoccurring.
To simply put it, Russ needs to stop shooting threes, pass to PG more and understand he can still go out and get triple-doubles if that’s what he wants his career to revolve around. If he wants his career to be a case of what a great individual he was, but he ruined so many good players, then he can just carry on the way he is because that’s what his legacy will be. What if he stopped shooting threes? What if he passed to PG and the others a little more? Would we be seeing a star pairing between Harden and Russ right now and how many titles would have they win? These are the questions we are asking now and will continue to ask when he retires. Please Russ, just shoot fewer threes!