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Monday, April 11, 2022

Wizards Have Yet to Reap Dividends From Westbrook Trade

There was much excitement about the Washington Wizards in some quarters early in the season--media members love to run with any narrative that even tangentially diminishes Russell Westbrook's value, such as asserting that the Wizards "won" the trade that sent Westbrook from the Wizards to the Lakers in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope--but over the course of an 82 game season teams reveal who they really are, and the Wizards are who intelligent analysts thought they were: a team that is not very good, and a team that is not better than it was last season with Westbrook running the show.  

Kuzma, Harrell--who the Wizards sent to Charlotte in a midseason deal--and Caldwell-Pope proved to be so valuable to the Wizards that the Wizards went 35-47 to finish 12th in the 15 team Eastern Conference, eight games behind the 10th place finish required to qualify for the Play-In Tournament. Yes, Bradley Beal missed 42 games, but the Wizards were just 17-23 when he played.

Remember, the 2021 Wizards went 34-38, and then blew out the Indiana Pacers 142-115 in the Play-In Tournament to clinch the eighth seed. That was the first time the Wizards franchise won an elimination game since 1979. The Wizards even won a playoff game versus the number one seed Philadelphia 76ers.

The Wizards started just 7-17 during the 2021 season, but finished strongly, largely due to Westbrook's exceptional play. A major and underrated contribution that Westbrook provides is rebounding. Not only did Westbrook average a triple double in 2020-21 (22.2 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 11.7 apg) for the fourth time in five seasons--Oscar Robertson is the only other player in pro basketball history to average a triple double even once--but he ranked sixth in the NBA in rebounding. It is incorrect to assert that Westbrook pads his rebounding numbers and that if he were replaced with a different player there would not be any impact on team rebounding. Rebounds are not fungible, and it is unfortunate that many of the media members who demonstrate their bias and/or ignorance by bashing Westbrook vote for the NBA's official awards, including MVP and the All-NBA Team. During the 2020-21 season with Westbrook pounding the boards as a 6-3 point guard, the Wizards ranked eighth in the NBA in rebounding. This season, the Wizards plummeted to 23rd in the NBA in rebounding.

It will be very interesting to track the Wizards moving forward and see just how much value is provided by the players that they acquired in the Westbrook trade. The only time the Wizards made the playoffs in the past four years is the one season that Westbrook spent with the team.

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posted by David Friedman @ 8:17 PM



At Monday, April 11, 2022 11:07:00 PM, Blogger DDC said...

The Wizards never have expectations and never will. They will forever be irrelevant. The Lakers are a train wreck and are poorly run as well. Lose lose trade for all involved


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