Why Rockets’ Russell Westbrook was slighted in favor of Chris Paul

Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets point guard Russell Westbrook was strangely selected behind Chris Paul on the All-NBA teams, which left many wondering why Westbrook was snubbed.

Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook found himself in unfamiliar territory during the 2019-20 season, as he was suddenly donning a new uniform after spending his entire career with the Oklahoma City Thunder. On the surface, Westbrook seemed out of place, as he was playing on a team that was known for heaving an inordinate amount of 3-pointers, which is far from his strength.

Westbrook went through the normal adjustment phase towards the start of the season, which is to be expected anytime a superstar gets moved to a new team. The Rockets switched to the microball philosophy, which unleashed peak Westbrook, as he went on a scoring surge, in which he scored at least 20 points in 36 consecutive games, which was a career-high.

Westbrook posted averages of 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and seven assists, and was one of only four players to finish with at least 1500 points, 400 rebounds, and 400 assists, with LeBron James, Luka Doncic, and James Harden being the other three.

Westbrook was recently named to the All-NBA Third-Team, and was bypassed by former Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul, who made the second-team despite posting averages of 17.6 points, 6.7 assists, and five rebounds, each of which were lower than Westbrook’s averages.

Why Westbrook was slighted in favor of Chris Paul

Westbrook’s Rockets finished with a 44-28 record, which landed them the fourth seed in the Western Conference, which was higher than Paul’s Oklahoma City Thunder fared. It was obvious that the media’s reasoning for deeming Paul’s season as more of a success than Westbrook’s had very little to do with the play on the floor, and Sirius XM’s Rick Kamla said as much on Give and Go, which is Sirius XM’s afternoon NBA show.

“The media has ill will towards Russell Westbrook. I love Chris Paul and he had a great season, but he did not have a better year than Russell Westbrook.

He did not. Statistically and in the standings. So I look at that as the media having ill will towards Russ, and they voted Chris Paul over him.”

Kamla makes a valid argument, as Westbrook has been described by the national media as selfish and a malcontent, although his teammates have consistently said quite the opposite. Westbrook has also been a model citizen in Houston, as we haven’t heard anything to suggest that Westbrook was a malcontent this season.

But awards are based largely on narratives, which partly explains why James Harden only has one MVP award, as he was perceived to not apply effort on the defensive end, which is just as inaccurate as Westbrook being described as selfish.

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The good thing is that these slights give Westbrook and Harden consistent opportunities to prove the media wrong, but the bad thing is that the false narratives largely prevented Westbrook from getting his due praise on the All-NBA selections.