HomeNewsRussell Westbrook had a renaissance season in 2023-24

Russell Westbrook had a renaissance season in 2023-24

In an absolutely loaded NBA free agent class that could include Hall-of-Fame-level talents like LeBron James, Paul George, and DeMar DeRozan, there’s a sleeping giant that could take a burgeoning playoff team to the next level, one that most fans and analysts seem to be overlooking.

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With a full season under his belt after being freed from a disastrous situation with the Los Angeles Lakers, Russell Westbrook has proved that he’s still one of the most impactful players in the NBA. Due to his status as a sixth man for a disappointing Los Angeles Clippers squad chock full of All-Stars, Westbrook’s renaissance season was under-discussed among the masses.

Russell Westbrook was one of the most impactful players in the NBA

He finished seventh in Sixth Man of the Year voting after an admirable campaign, but he very well could have won it had he been on a different team more in need of his strengths. For L.A., Head Coach Tyronn Lue deployed him a little less than 23 minutes a night. His per-36 stats showed that he’s still a borderline All-Star-level talent, with 17.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 7.2 assists. The only players who matched those per-36 averages this past season were NikolaJokic, Luka Doncic, and Domantas Sabonis. With a more refined shot diet, Russ was able to drop in over 45 percent of his attempts while serving as a primary shot creator for the Clippers off of the bench.

Despite understudying one of the greatest point guards in the league in James Harden, the Clippers were better on both offense and defense with Russ on the floor. L.A. had a 119.6 offensive rating with him playing and a 119.3 with him on the pine. They gave up 116.2 points per 100 possessions with him off the court and 115.2 with him on defense.

Westbrook could be a starter for a contender next season

Not only did Westbrook turn out to be one of the best reserves in the game, he also proved that he can still be an elite starting point guard for any team that would allow him to serve as their primary ball-handler. According to Cleaning the Glass, the Clippers had a +22.5 net rating when Russ shared the floor with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, L.A. ‘s superstar wing tandem, with Harden on the bench. With those three in the game at the same time and Russ serving as the lead guard, the Clips were blitzing teams on offense to the tune of a 126.4 offensive rating while holding their opponents to just 104.2 points per 100 possessions.

Clearly, Russ still has a lot to offer to a contending hopeful. At this point in his career and with his recent history, he won’t command a max contract this summer, but he could very well provide max-contract-level production. With that in mind, there’s no reason why every team looking to win a championship next year shouldn’t try to bring him on board. Adding Aaron Gordon turned the Denver Nuggets into champions two years ago. Whichever team winds up getting Russ this offseason might walk away with the steal of the summer and the Larry O’Brien next year.

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