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Is Westbrook’s low ranking an effect of Houston Rockets’ inconsistency?

Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Russell Westbrook’s shockingly low player ranking stems from his inconsistent offensive efficiency that negatively affected the Houston Rockets as a team.

Once again, a member of the Houston Rockets has found himself the target of some controversial media analysis. Just one day after NBA teams arrived in the Orlando bubble in preparation for the long-awaited continuation of the NBA season, Bleacher Report released their list for the top 100 players during the 2019-20 NBA season.

Russell Westbrook was surprisingly ranked 22nd on the list behind a slew of players many people believe Westbrook is better than, including Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry and more notably Khris Middleton, the Milwaukee Bucks forward who rounded at the number 10 spot for the season.

The bulk of the rankings released by Bleacher Report was based more on the next generation and in-depth statistics each player accumulated during the season before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the league.

Westbrook averaged 27.5 points, ripped down eight rebounds and dished out seven assists per game in 53 regular season games played during the 2019-20 season. Additionally, he shot 47.4 percent from the floor in his 35.9 minutes per game.

During an eight-game stretch in the month of February, Westbrook helped lead to the Rockets to a 7-1 record. In those games, he averaged 32.3 points, recorded 7.1 rebounds and dimed out 6.1 assists per game on an unbelievable 54 percent shooting from the floor.

Westbrook scored 20 or more points in 27 consecutive games this season, which was the longest streak of his career and second-longest in the NBA this season, behind only his backcourt teammate James Harden, who extended his streak to 34 games.

Westbrook’s incredible contributions helped the Rockets to a 40-24 record, which was tied for the sixth seed and two games back of the third seed in the loaded and dangerous Western Conference at the time of the NBA’s shutdown.

With these numbers on the table, it would seem crystal clear that Westbrook earned himself a much higher ranking than 22nd on just about any list. However, the next generation numbers tell a different story of how Westbrook has had a negative effect on the Rockets’ season when he’s playing in a destructive way, which could be a cause of his low ranking.

In the first half of the season before the month of January, the Rockets were outscored by 4.3 points per 100 possessions with a sub-105 offensive rating when Westbrook was on the floor without teammate James Harden.

Westbrook was also on track to record his fourth-worst true shooting percentage of his entire NBA career due to the heavy increase of his 3-point attempts, tough contested shots at the rim and missed buckets in transition from outside of the paint area.

As a result, the Rockets dwindled as a team during the early parts of the season due to their inability to incorporate all their pieces into one unit and their imbalance after Harden exited to the bench, leaving Westbrook to run the offense on his own accord.

Next: How Westbrook Turned Things Around

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