Kendrick Perkins comes to defense of Rockets’ Russell Westbrook

Kendrick Perkins (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Kendrick Perkins (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

On Wednesday, ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins came to the defense of Houston Rockets superstar guard Russell Westbrook.

Houston Rockets star guard Russell Westbrook is one of the most scrutinized players in NBA history, as he’s faced criticized both on and off the court. Westbrook has been described as a ballhog and has been depicted as a player that cares more about accolades and personal milestones than winning championships, which are both erroneous.

Westbrook has also been described as a malcontent and a selfish individual, which couldn’t be further from the truth, based on what we’ve heard from his teammates and based on Westbrook’s efforts in the community. We’ve seen nationally-recognized sites like Bleacher Report list Westbrook outside of their list of the top-20 players in the league, which is a travesty on several levels.

The Westbrook slander continued on Wednesday’s episode of ESPN’s First Take, as Max Kellerman and Dominique Foxworth stated that the LA Clippers’ coaching job carries more cache than the Rockets’ job, due to the belief that Westbrook isn’t a top-five player in the NBA.

Kellerman stated, “The record shows that’s not the case. The number one determining factor in the history of the NBA, in terms of winning championships, is [having] two top-five players on the same team. And that’s how you win. In the history of the NBA, almost never do two top-five players not win the championship. It’s not Westbrook.

He’s not a top-five player. When he and Paul George were on the same team, Paul George was the best player on the team, by the way indisputably.”

Westbrook’s former teammate and current ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins intervened and made it clear which side of the fence he stands on, as it pertains to Westbrook being a top-five player in the league, while addressing Kellerman’s claims about George being better than Russ.

Kendrick Perkins defends Houston Rockets Russell Westbrook

“That’s because Russ deferred to Paul George because he wanted Paul George to be great. If you look at it, that was the best season that Paul George had, playing with Russell Westbrook.

A guy that is an engine to a car, and we’re downplaying how great of a player Russell Westbrook is. But if you were starting a franchise right now, you are not going to pick Paul George over Russell Westbrook.

That’s just not happening. Paul George didn’t even play better than Westbrook this season.”

Perkins didn’t stop there in his defense of Westbrook, as he continued to vehemently state his case.

Perkins added, “Do I have to go back and revisit the Oklahoma City days, a closeout game in Utah, where Russell Westbrook went for 45 and Paul George went for five points? Do I have to revisit that Russell Westbrook went to the NBA Finals and dropped a 40-point game against a Miami Heat team?

Russell Westbrook is battle-tested, and has an MVP. We’re talking about a guy that averaged a triple-double for three consecutive seasons.

Before he got hurt, before the pandemic, Russell Westbrook was tearing the league up, no one could stop him. Are we forgetting that?”

Westbrook was named to both the All-Star team and an All-NBA team during the 2019-20 season, which can’t be said about George. Westbrook had a career year, while playing in an offensive system that was re-built midway through the season.

Perkins is certainly right as it pertains to Westbrook being a better player than George, as he’s easily a more complete player. Houston Rockets fans should be excited about year two of the Westbrook experiment, as he’ll be more comfortable and familiar with playing alongside James Harden, not to mention the fact that his role is clearly defined.

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For this reason, we shouldn’t expect Westbrook to be traded, although it’s been fun and entertaining to play out the trade scenarios surrounding Russ.