Home > Uncategorized > Russell Westbrook, Superstar or Stephon Marbury 2.0…?

Russell Westbrook, Superstar or Stephon Marbury 2.0…?

One of the most predominant – and bizarre – narratives of this year’s NBA playoffs, has been the devolution of Russell Tiberius Westbrook.  For reasons which strike me as a little odd, the mainstream media and the blogosphere have knocked Westbrook around like a pinata at a seven year old’s birthday.  Glancing – and somewhat feeble – blows from intrepid youngsters offering plenty of welts and bruises, but failing to spill the candy everywhere.

In the span of a month, Westbrook has gone from being viewed as one of the top young point guards in the NBA, a player selected to the all-NBA second team, and a franchise linchpin, to being the man largely responsible for prematurely ending Oklahoma’s season.  He has been criticized for not passing to Durant, for making poor decisions, for pounding the ball, and for being the second shooter on the grassy knoll.  He has been called selfish, a liability, and even – gasp – the second coming of Stephon Marbury.

Only John Hollinger – an ever present voice of reason  – has continued to articulate (Pay Site, sorry) that if Westbrook isn’t Derrek Rose’s equal, he’s closer than we all think.  And this is the point really, Westbrook, like Rose, is a 22 year old phenomenon.  He’s a physical marvel, he’s capable of getting to the rim at will, he’s a franchise player.  Yes, he still has pieces of his game that need work, but so does LeBron and he’s been in the league for 8 years.

It may be that Westbrook never learns to temper his scoring gene.  It may also be that he never matures into a better deicsion maker, but this offseason is far, far too early to write him off.  Yet, somehow, despite that, some pundits are making the case that OKC would be wise to pursue trades for Westbrook and look to turn the keys to the team over to Eric Maynor.  Obviously this has all the wisdom of electing Donald Trump president, but we wouldn’t be Sports on the Brain if we didn’t at least consider what the Zombie Sonics could get in return for their mercurial point guard.

Given his age and skill set, these are the players for whom the Zombies would consider trading Westbrook:

  1. LeBron James, 27.34 PER
  2. Derek Rose, 23.62
  3. Dwayne Wade, 25.65
  4. Dwight Howard, 26.13
  5. Blake Griffin, 21.93

That’s it, that’s the list.  The Zombies aren’t going to trade him for Kobe, because the Black Mamba’s a decade older, with about 2 million more miles on the odometer.  Likewise Manu, Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire, Pau Gasol and even Dirk are too expensive, too old, and too beaten down by the NBA.  Even if the Knicks wanted to part with their shinny new bauble, Oklahoma’s not jumping at a Westbrook – Carmelo Anthony deal, because in Kevin Durant they already have Anthony version 2.0.

What about the other star point guards in the league?  Well, Chris Paul would be tempting, because I think with Paul OKC might have beat Dallas this year, but Paul’s balky knee makes that one a non-starter.  There’s Deron Williams, but he’s four years older and has never had a season as good as Westbrook’s this year.  Why trade for the older, more expensive guy if he’s not demonstrably better?  Steve Nash?  Too old.  John Wall?  Too young.  Tony Parker?  Too French.  Rajon Rondo?  Well, that one’s interesting.  He’d certainly pass to Durant, and he’s a better defender, but  – and I cannot stress this enough – he shot 56% from the line this year.  How is it going to improve the Zombies late game execution, if their point guard shies away from the ball?  No, that wont do…

All of which brings us back to our original list:

  1. LeBron James, 27.34 PER
  2. Derek Rose, 23.62
  3. Dwayne Wade, 25.65
  4. Dwight Howard, 26.13
  5. Blake Griffin, 21.93

If those are the players who OKC would want in a trade for Westbrook, which of those guys would be available in return?  Not James obviously.  Nor Rose.  Those are probably the two least accessible guys in the league.  And if the Heat aren’t trading James, who has been in South Beach for about 23 seconds, they sure as heck aren’t trading Wade – not unless this “Big Three” experiment had been a complete disaster, and I think we’re a little past that point now.  And, you could argue that given how much positive publicity he brought the Clippers this year, that Blake Griffin is pretty unattainable, at least until he’s a little closer to free agency, all of which leaves us with one name:

Dwight Howard.

As we all know, Orlando’s all-star pivot is arguably available.  He would represent a massive upgrade at the center position and would form a fearsome front court with Durant and Serge Ibaka.  Would the Magic trade him for Westbrook?  Well, not straight up, but Russ and Kendrick Perkins might be enough.

Dwight Howard… that’s just about the only possible trade out there for Russell Westbrook.  So, unless Sam Presti sees Orlando’s area code on the call display, we can be pretty sure he’s going to ignore any and all calls for Russell Westbrook this offseason.

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  1. Gordon Bishop
    May 27, 2011 at 11:15 am

    We need a quick column on the champions league final – tomorrow. How does Sports on the Brain come down on Man U. vs Barcelona? Classic!

    • May 27, 2011 at 5:15 pm

      Well, if I rub the crystal ball, I see Barca scoring 3 times and Man U 1, but, since I’ve watched all of 37 seconds of footie this year, I’d take that with a carat sized grain of salt.

      • May 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm

        I guess every once in a while the crystal ball shines bright…

  2. Gordon Bishop
    June 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    What about the Swansea promotion to Premier League?!?!?! First Welsh team ever…This must be the result of your time spent in Swansea, working with the young developing players.
    It seems that your sports management career is one of those that takes time to bear its impact. I think there’s a contract waiting in Minnesota for you. I think a year or two will do it and wait 5-10 years and BAM! They go to the conference finals for the first time since Kevin (I intimedate all point guards) Garnett, Sam (cohones of a whale) Cassell, Latrell (I got mouths to feed that cost more than 21 million a year) Sprewell, and whoever else helped them get there that year. Fortunately/unfortunately for him, Kevin Love will still be there despite the 1million members of FreeKevinLove

  3. June 10, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    I know, I almost want to go back to Swansea to watch a Premier League game. Just think a little footie in Wales and then a trip up North to Cullen for a little, “Surf Cullen.” That sounds like a solid little vacation, but I’ll just substitute London for the Swansea visit…

    As for Minnesota, would I have to live there, or could it be like how Jordan ran the Wizards from Chicago and golf courses? I mean, no offense to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but uhmmm… yeah.

    10 years sounds about right for the Wolves to be good again though.

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