Last year, most hoops fans were very supportive of Russell Westbrook and remained firm believers that he had one of the more underrated seasons out of all of the Los Angeles Lakers players, despite the feedback he caught constantly from talking heads and social media trolls.
The 14-year vet and Top 75 player was extremely durable, playing more games than LeBron and Anthony Davis. But it’s starting to seem like his decline is here. If last season was the beginning of his steep decline, this season he has fallen off a cliff.
And if it isn’t Skip Bayless calling him “Westbrick” and duking it out with Russ’ wife on social media, it’s another new, usually white analyst that emerges to wipe the floor with Westbrook’s legacy. And quite comfortably say things about him that they wouldn’t dare say in his face in a million years. It’s one thing when Stephen A. Smith starts bloviating about Russ and construction workers in referencing Russ’ poor shooting. That’s what Smith does.
But now, NBA analyst Kevin O’Connor is all in on the popular idea that Westbrook’s finished, and he also feels that the Lakers are as well if they don’t get rid of him as soon as possible.
Utilizing some interesting statistics and also playing the role of captain obvious, O’Connor makes it crystal clear that he is not a fan of Westbrook. It almost sounded personal.
“Russell Westbrook is a washed-up bricklayer who needs to be traded immediately for the Los Angeles Lakers to have any chance of saving their season,” O’Connor wrote Monday in the Ringer.
“It’s been only three games, but the Lakers are winless and their schedule doesn’t ease up over the next month. Westbrook isn’t the only problem, but he’s by far their biggest and most glaring one.”
Later he said, “Westbrook has made only 38.3 percent of his midrange jumpers in his career, and the number has dipped further since he joined the Lakers. He’s gone from bad to worse, and now defenders treat him like he isn’t even on the court. Through three games this season, opponents are contesting jump shots by Westbrook only 41.2 percent of the time. According to Second Spectrum, that’s by far the lowest contest rate in NBA tracking data history, which dates back to 2013-14.”
FadewayWorld, in its analysis of O’Connor’s analysis, wrote, “O’Connor put Westbrook’s 41.2 percent contest rate in perspective, pointing out that only two other players on record ‘have had less than 50 percent of their jumpers contested: Joakim Noah, at 48.7 percent in 2013-14 with the Bulls, and Andre Roberson, at 48.8 percent during the 2016-17 season with the Thunder.’”
He’s not wrong either, Westbrook is pulling the Lakers down, and his shooting has been abysmal in doing so. There have been questions about multiple different Lakers getting traded since last season, there was even some chatter about the Lakers cutting their losses last season and trading LeBron.
AD’s name has been frequently talked about in trade rumors, and Westbrook is on the chopping block himself.
According to ESPN analyst Adrian Wojnarowski, Westbrook isn’t expected to be traded until after Thanksgiving, which is around the time Dennis Schröder is expected to be back from injury. At that point, they will have a capable starting point guard and will be able to move on from Westbrook. The main question is who would want to trade for him?
There was of course talk of a Westbrook and Wall swap last season, but now John Wall is on the other Los Angeles team, and he’s looking way better than Westbrook after the first few games. It’s highly unlikely that swap will happen anytime soon now, but the trade rumor that has been getting the most traction is the Lakers sending Westbrook and multiple drafts picks to the Pacers for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, and while that trade favors the Lakers, the Pacers might explore that trade.
Either way, for Westbrook it’s not looking good for him, and unless he can step his game up, his time in L.A. will be coming to an end. It’s almost unbearable at this point. From fans to nerdy sports analysts who never sniffed “outside,” everybody is coming for Russ like it’s open season. Who’s next?