Trading for Russell Westbrook has been a disaster for the Los Angeles Lakers with just about everyone in the organization reportedly being interested in trading him. It did not happen at the deadline and Rob Pelinka is going to make phone call after phone call to try and find a suitor for Westbrook this offseason.
Westbrook clearly doesn’t mesh with what the Lakers have and is one of the highest-paid players in the league. Not only is he an awful fit next to LeBron James, but his contract restricted the team from bringing in the quality depth.
The result is the atrocity that you have seen this season; a Lakers team that will struggle to get into the Play-In Game and won’t win a playoff series despite having two All-NBA guys on the roster in LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Those that just glance at the box score may not think Westbrook is having a bad season. After all, he is averaging 17.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game. That is almost a triple-double, the holy grail of NBA statistics!
Those that have watched the Lakers this season know that his box-score numbers mean nothing. Westbrook has been awful this season and it just isn’t a bad year. It is one of the worst seasons of all time.
Only six players in NBA history have had a worse season than Russell Westbrook.
So how did we come to this conclusion to grade the seasons? First of all, we did not want to include role players in this list. There are different expectations for role players and someone struggling in 20 minutes per game is not the same as Westbrook struggling in his minutes per game.
We also wanted to find players who demanded the ball. Players who had high usage rates, meaning that their poor play was not just impacting them, but having the maximum negative impact it could have on their team.
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Westbrook is averaging 34.3 minutes per game with a 27.2% usage rate (that is low compared to the rest of his career). Thus, the parameters were set. Players had to have a usage rate of at least 27% and had to play at least 32 minutes per game (exactly 75% or more of the overall minutes in a game).
We then filtered the results by Box Plus/Minus, which is a reliable stat for ranking players (for example, the top five players in the NBA this season in BPM are Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic and LeBron James, the five front-runners for MVP).
Westbrook’s -2.2 BPM is the seventh-worst in league history with those parameters set. To put that into perspective, there have been 670 individual seasons with those parameters set (Nikola Jokic’s current campaign is actually the best ever with these parameters).
Ranking 664/670 in NBA history is not something that Westbrook should be proud of. The six players that rank below him are:
- Richard Hamilton, 2001-02, -2.2 BPM
- Mike Mitchell, 1985-86, -2.3 BPM
- Chris Kaman, 2009-10, -2.5 BPM
- Anthony Edwards, 2020-21, -2.6 BPM
- Darrell Griffith, 1980-81, -3.2 BPM
- Pete Maravich, 1978-79, -3.7 BPM
The only player on that list that has the same kind of status as Russell Westbrook is Pete Maravich, who is an NBA Hall of Famer. Pistol Pete turned into the classic inefficient offensive player late in his career (in large part because he didn’t have the three-point line) that thought he still had it and took shots like he did but didn’t. He also was extremely poor on the defensive end.
The 1978-79 season was Maravich’s second-to-last in the NBA. He retired after the following season because of knee issues at the age of 32.
At the end of the day, all any Laker fan cares about is winning, not the kind of numbers Russell Westbrook is putting up. However, these horrible numbers are the reason why the team isn’t doing much winning nowadays.