Despite winning an MVP and averaging a triple-double in consecutive seasons, Russell Westbrook is currently the most underrated player in the league.
Over the past few seasons the discussion surrounding Westbrook makes him viewed as a stat-padding player and a poor teammate. In some instances it does look like the guard steals Steven Adams rebounds; however, we are all quick to forget that Westbrook is arguably one of the best transition players in the league.
His signature move is to use his lightning speed to flash across the court to either finish at the rim or find the open man, so it makes sense for him to seek the defensive rebound, as it allows for him to get to the other end as quick as possible.
At this point in the season Westbrook is yet again on pace to average a triple-double for a third consecutive year, with current averages of 21.9-points, ten rebounds and ten assists. However, one of the more impressive actions Westbrook has taken this season surrounds averaging a career low in points since his sophomore season. Westbrook is perceived to have the alpha dog ego, many would say to his detriment.
The stigma surrounding Westbrook’s poor decision-making at times is justified and is reflected by his shot efficiency, but allowing for his All-Star teammate Paul George to be the first option on offence has led to the recent success of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Westbrook’s usage rate during his MVP season was 40 per cent; this year it sits at 29.7 per cent which, like his scoring, is a career low since his second season in the league. Playing off the ball in more situations allows for a more dynamic team offence and for Westbrook to spend a greater focus on the defensive side of the court.
This has led to Westbrook leading the league in steals per game (2.4) and boasting at 102.1 defensive efficiency rating, which is two points better than Kawhi Leonard’s this season. His effort on defence this season has been one of the major factors to the Thunder being the best defensive team in the league.