Although ranking the top 30 NBA players in today’s game is an incredibly difficult task, The Last Word on Pro Basketball staff has taken it on. Coming in at number 13 in the countdown is Houston Rockets point guard Russell Westbrook.
Top 30 NBA Players
Number 13 – Russell Westbrook
Even after his trade to the Rockets, where he went from the first option to the second, Russell Westbrook is still one of the elite guards in the game. Fans were questioning how he would fit next to teammate James Harden and how head coach Mike D’Antoni‘s system would affect him. He has responded with the third-highest-scoring season of his career and has helped lead the Rockets back into the postseason.
Westbrook this season is averaging 27.5 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists per game, and was selected as an all-star for the ninth time in his career.
Westbrook is an athletic point guard with an all-around game. He has been known in recent years for getting triple-doubles in the categories of points, rebounds, and assists. Westbrook has averaged 23.2 points per game for his career. While that may not seem that high, he has averaged over 25 points per game four times in his career, including one season when he averaged 31.6 points per game.
Westbrook is an elite passer and has averaged over 10 assists per game four times in his career. Standing at 6’3, he has been one of the best rebounding guards the game has seen, averaging more than seven rebounds per game over the past six seasons. It is rare to find a guard his size that averages that many rebounds in today’s NBA. When it comes to scoring, Westbrook’s primary strength is driving to the basket and finishing at the rim.
While Westbrook’s inside game is solid, his outside shooting leaves a lot to be desired. This season, he is shooting 25.4 percent from three-point range. Even though this hurts his game, he still shoots an alarming number of threes per game. He has averaged around four three-point attempts per game over the past eight seasons.
Another concerning statistic is his free-throw percentage. Westbrook is a career 80 percent free-throw shooter but that number has dropped drastically since the 2017-18 season. Last year, he shot 65.6 percent from the foul line. Since he drives to the basket and gets fouled a lot, this can become problematic.
Westbrook’s inability to come through in the clutch can also be seen as a weakness. He was on the 2015-16 Oklahoma City Thunder team that blew a 3-1 lead in the conference finals to the Golden State Warriors. In the past three seasons, he has yet to make it out of the first round of the playoffs. It is safe to say Westbrook has not had a lot of postseason success.
Westbrook has an impressive list of accolades to date. He is a nine-time all-star, including two all-star game Most Valuable Player awards. On two occasions, he has led the league in scoring and assists. He has been an All-NBA selection eight times. After teammate Kevin Durant left to join the rival Golden State Warriors in the summer of 2016, Westbrook responded with the best season of his career. He averaged a triple-double and won the Most Valuable Player award for the 2016-17 season. Westbrook has averaged a triple-double over the past three seasons. Nobody had averaged a triple-double even once since basketball legend Oscar Robertson did it back in the 1961-62 season. Westbrook will one day be honored in Springfield.
Last Word on Pro Basketball Top 30 NBA Players Ballots
We believe in full transparency in the top 30 NBA player rankings so we are going to disclose the ballots of our player rankings and where each contributor had each player ranked.
Tyler Marling – Site Manager – 21
Chase Gage – Managing Editor – 8
David Knight – Marketing Manager – 11
Zack Kircher – Associate Editor – 15
Matthew Waldman – Associate Editor – 11
David Ward – Author – 21
Avinash Chauhan – Contributor – 15
Adam Zigner – Contributor – 30
Albert Dadson – Contributor – 7
Dylan Guest – Contributor – 12
Raheem Bashir – Contributor – 8
Nathan Levine – Contributor – 7
Bill Huan – Contributor – 14