It’s probably about time we put some respect on the man’s name.
Russell Westbrook, who for years has taken a beating from the fans and the more analytically inclined media members, is the same player he’s always been. It’s just taken us until now to fully appreciate him.
If the world didn’t yet appreciate Westbrook the player, Monday night’s historic performance — 14 points, 21 rebounds and 24 assists — did the trick.
It’s only the third time in NBA history that a player has gone for 20-plus rebounds and 20-plus assists in a game. The first was NBA legend Wilt Chamberlain in 1968. The second? Russell Westbrook back in 2019.
Few saw this coming when the Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards swapped their polarizing point guards in the offseason— John Wall was sent to Houston and Westbrook to Washington. It was simply seen as two teams trading away one problematic, overpaid superstar for another.
As it turns out, the two point guards shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence.
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The season started out with the usual narrative around Westbrook — he still continues to take too many three’s, he doesn’t make his teammates better, the triple-doubles aren’t really that impressive in today’s game. At the start of the season, those critiques may have held water, as Westbrook wasn’t himself after coming off a torn quad suffered in the NBA bubble last season.
The injuries to start the year didn’t allow Westbrook to be, well, Westbrook. His patented explosiveness wasn’t there, and as a result, he was often left to settle for jumpers when, in past years, he would have blown by his defender.
He’s healthy now, and the Wizards are on a roll.
As a result, Washington is in a great spot to squeak into the play-in tournament — three games up on the Toronto Raptors and four games up on the Bulls for the 10th and final play-in spot. They sit a half-game behind the Pacers for the ninth spot, and much of it is due to Westbrook’s resurgence.
Since April 7, the Wizards are 13-3 and according to ESPN, rank fourth in offensive rating (116.5), eighth in defensive rating (109.4), and third in net rating (+7.1). Westbrook is averaging 21.8 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 13.1 assists per game during the stretch.
Wizards head coach Scott Brooks began his postgame press conference on Monday night almost in awe of his point guard.
“He’s amazing. Everyone describes him in so many different ways,” Brooks said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to see him for eight years, do a lot of things that are superhuman at times.”
“Point guards don’t do what he does, they’re not built that way. There might be some that probably shoot better, there might be some that can do certain things better but there’s nobody in the history of the game that can do what he does throughout the stat sheet.”
Brooks went on to describe Westbrook as one of the all-time greats at the point guard position.
“I used to always say he’s going to probably go down as the third-best point guard ever,” Brooks said, “but I think he’s passed one and he’s going to go down as probably the second-best. One is obviously Magic (Johnson). What he does, there’s no point guard that has ever done it. Nobody. Nobody.”
“He’s doing MVP-type things every game. He’s an MVP-type things every game. He’s an MVP winner every night, on the floor and off the floor.”
Westbrook still has his flaws, he’ll never be the perfect player, and Washington won’t be winning a championship anytime soon, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Westbrook is proving us all wrong. The game around him may have changed, but he never has.
Thank goodness for that.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers and the NBA for Sporting News.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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