• Spencer Kolbert

The Westbrook Curse


Russell Westbrook is box office. He is explosive. He is angry. He is a walking triple double and everybody knows it.

And here is why that doesn’t matter.

Russell Westbrook is inefficient, selfish, and ball-dominant. In the modern NBA, we all know the importance of the three-point shot. If you have title ambitions, your guards need to be able to knock down the 3. But Westbrook is awful from beyond the arc.

According to The Score, in NBA history there have been 84 players to shoot more than 400 3’s and 400 free throws in a single season. Of those 84, Westbrook ranks dead-last in both 3PT% (29.0) and FT% (65.6). He is a case study in all-time inefficiency.

Sure, the triple-double is a mesmerizing feat of athleticism and skill (certainly one Westbrook is well-built for), but it is ultimately the NBA stats equivalent of empty calories. It doesn't translate to winning playoff-basketball.

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Westbrook is a drive-and-kick specialist. This means that his offense is primarily powered by an explosive first step. He gets past his man and, using superb hops, elevates to finish at the rim or dish to a shooter.

Herein lies the problem: because of Westbrook’s poor three-point shooting, defenders are able to slack-off and give him space at the arc, making it easier to guard his drive. This means Westbrook’s rim-runs are more frequently contested by the primary defender (as opposed to the help defense).

Because of the lack of switching, the rest of the defense can continue to guard their assignments, making it more difficult for Westbrook to kick the ball out to shooters. Lastly, because of his poor FT%, defenders are content with sending him to the charity stripe rather than giving up a layup (or high-voltage dunk).

What does this all add up to? A high-usage, low-efficiency point guard who would seemingly rather take 40 shots and lose than take 15 and win. Westbrook can carry a talentless team to roughly 40 wins, but he cannot contribute meaningfully to a championship contender; that, my friends, is the Westbrook Curse.