I think NBA fans across the world can all agree that Russell Westbrook is one of the greatest and most electrifying basketball players of all time. After starting the season 18-31, Westbrook and the Washington Wizards have gone on a tear and are currently 31-36 on the season. As the 10th seed they hold the final play-in spot and are 4 games clear of the 11th seeded Bulls. Westbrook is once again averaging a triple-double on the season as he is averaging 21.8 points per game, 11.5 rebounds, 11.4 assists while shooting 44% from the field. Westbrook currently has 180 triple-doubles which gives him the second most of all-time and leaves him 1 triple-double away from tying the all-time record of 181 held by the great Oscar Robertson.
On May 3rd, Westbrook had a historic night in which he tallied 14 points, 24 assists and 21 rebounds against the Indiana Pacers. That game seemingly sparked a debate about where Westbrook ranks all time amongst point guards. Many felt that he has worked his way into the top 5 which is fair, but I would have to disagree. I would argue that he is between the 6-10 range.
My top 5 of all time are:
- Magic Johnson
- Steph Curry
- Jason Kidd
- Isaiah Thomas
- Chris Paul
I do not feel that Westbrook has surpassed any of these PG’s yet. The players in this top 5 have all established that their teams can be championship contenders while being the best player on the team. Unfortunately, Westbrook has not shown that yet. I feel comfortable in saying that if any of these point guards played with Kevin Durant they would have more than 1 finals appearance. Magic and Curry’s resume speak for themselves. Kidd is one of the most overlooked players in NBA history, he brought the New Jersey Nets to two consecutive finals and was instrumental in the 2011 Mavericks championship run. Isaiah Thomas is a two-time NBA champion who dominated during the 80’s. Last but not least Chris Paul. Paul has unfortunately had some bad luck in the playoffs but nonetheless he has displayed leadership and the ability to be the best player on a tittle contender. If not for his injury against the Warriors in the 2017 western conference finals, the Rockets would have had a great chance of upsetting the stacked Warriors squad. Paul has even turned the Suns into a title contender as they are only 1 game behind the Utah Jazz for the best record in the league.
Even after Durant’s departure, Westbrook got the opportunity to play with all-star caliber players like James Harden, Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Paul George but those teams were never truly title contenders. In my opinion, that goes against his argument of being a top 5 point guard of all time.
Another issue is that even though he is having a fantastic season so far, the Wizards I would argue should be better than the 10th seed. Teams like the Pacers and Heat who have been plagued by injury all year have a better record than them and even the young up and coming Hornets have a better record than them. Even though they do not have the greatest team in the world they are in the eastern conference and I do not believe it is too much to ask of Beal and Westbrook to be above .500.
Westbrook is as elite and electric as they come and he deserves all the credit in the world, however I feel as though he is not a top 5 point guard as of yet. If he can be the best player on a true title contender then he may have a stronger top 5 case.
Russell Westbrook Photo, Credit to Getty Images.