Introducing Russell Westbrook, the NBA’s Best Point Guard

Not to rain on the Steph Curry parade but the best point guard in the NBA is Russell Westbrook.

Through seventy-two games, Westbrook has been extraordinary: 23.6 points, 10.4 assists, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.1 steals. He is shooting 45.4%, a career high. He is making 50% of his 2-point shots, a career high. He is a triple double machine and drains 47% of shots that are contested. He’s amassed 557 total rebounds, a career high. His 752 assists is a career high. His true shooting percentage, 55.3% is a career high.

To look at it another way: Westbrook touches the ball 89.1 times per game. He ranks 9th in scoring, 2nd in assists, and 4th in steals. He scores 50.7% of the time when he drives to the rim and averages 7.1 points off of such drives. He is the best rebounding point guard in the league. He averages more rebounds than his teammate Serge Ibaka.

Effective in nearly every aspect of basketball, Westbrook’s triple doubles are proof of his versatility. Recently, he had four triple doubles in five games. With Damian Lillard trying to stop him, Westbrook had a stat line of 17 points, 16 assists, 10 rebounds. Two games later, in Philly, he had 20 points, 10 assists, and 15 rebounds. The next night, in Indiana, more of Westbrook being Westbrook. 14 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds.  Going up against Houston and old pal James Harden, he had 21 points, 15 assists, 13 rebounds.

His ability to rebound the ball with efficiency is what separates him from his competition.

Of the 48.4 rebounds OKC pulls in- they are first in the league in rebounding- Westbrook grabs more than 12.2% of them. Steph Curry hauls in 8.6% of his team’s rebounds. Chris Paul, 6.7%

His assist percentage overshadows Curry’s as well. Steph dishes out the ball for scores 33.3% of the time. Russell Westbrook’s assist percentage is 49.4%. Chris Paul does it 51.4% of the time.

Westbrook’s Value Added (VA) which are the number of points a player adds to a season total above a replacement player, is higher than Kevin Durant and LeBron James. He only trails Curry.

Point Guard Excellence 2015-16 Points Assists Assist% #of Triple Doubles Value Added (VA)
Steph Curry 30.2 6.6 33.3% 2 736.5
Chris Paul 20.0 9.8 51.4% 0 491.3
Russell Westbrook 23.6 10.4 49.4% 15 622.6

With grit, Westbrook fought back from a broken hand as well as facial surgery to finish fourth in MVP voting last season. Curry took home the award. It is hard to argue that Westbrook should have won MVP as his team did not even make the playoffs. But Westbrook was a more productive point guard than Steph.

He ended the season with more points, assists, rebounds, and steals per game than Curry, and also had a higher PER. Curry had one of the best supporting casts in the NBA, while Westbrook played many a game with Dion Waiters, Andre Roberson, Steven Adams, and Enes Kanter. Curry’s team was injury free while Westbrook had to fill in the hole a Kevin Durant absence created.

A necessary trait for a point guard, order, is the Westbrook mantra.  The OKC floor general, the player that organizes his team, Westbrook functions regardless of personnel. Consider, he led a depleted roster to 45 wins last season and grew into a more mature, poised, controlled leader. The Thunder went 5-10 without Westbrook in the lineup, showing that the season may have been a complete disaster without him.

This year, Westbrook is excelling more than ever. He’s had 13 games where he scored 30+ points. He’s had 4 games where he’s scored 40+ points. He’s had 43 games of 10+ assists or more, and 12 games of 15+ assists. In 24 games, he’s had 3 steals or more. He scores more points on the road, has a higher field goal percentage and three point percentage in enemy arenas.

Since the All-Star break he has a lower usage rate but more assists and rebounds.

New head coach Billy Donovan has aided the Westbrook growth curve. The first-year coach has implemented an offensive system that allows ball handlers to operate in more space which is very effective for an athletic guard like Westbrook. The system also works with more pick-and-roll sets in which Russ can thrive, especially with players such as Durant and Ibaka who can both shoot or attack the rim.

In his eighth season in the league, Westbrook has changed the perception. He is more than just an inefficient ball of energy that can erupt at any moment. He is an extremely talented, passionate player who will leave everything on the court to get a win for his teammates. He scores, assists, rebounds, and defends at elite levels.

Best point guard in the NBA. Case closed.

photo via llananba