Analyzing Russell Westbrook
There is no debate that Russell Westbrook is a better player than John Wall. Westbrook has an MVP, Wall doesn’t. Westbrook has been an All-NBA selection nine times, Wall has been once.
While Westbrook is a surefire Hall of Famer, NBA general managers don’t value prior production, they value future production. This is when the debate gets murkier when discussing Wall and Westbrook.
Russell Westbrook will be 35 at the conclusion of his current contract. At 32 years old it’s almost a guarantee that his best seasons are behind him. Using Win Shares and Win Shares per 48 minutes let’s see the depth of Westbrook’s decline over the past three seasons.
(Difference from previous season)
Season Win Shares Win Shares/48
2017-18: 10.1 (-3) .166 (-.058)
2018-19: 6.8 (-3.3) .124 (-.042)
2019-20: 5.7 (-1.1) .098 (-.026)
(Win share total in 2019-20 weighted to 77 games played, was actually 4.2 over 57 games)
In 2017-18 Russell Westbrook’s 10.1 win shares were 14th in the league, with the difference between 14th and 9th only equating to 0.3 win shares (a negligible amount). Westbrook was 29, in his prime, and producing like a top-10 player.
However, the warning signs were already there that Westbrook was in decline. He had seen a drop of 3 win shares from the previous season and that trend continued into 2018-19 but began to level off in 2019-20.
Going forward Westbrook’s year-to-year decline will likely mirror his decline from 2018-19 to 2019-20. A drop of around 1 win share per season and .02 win shares per 48. Let’s take a look at what his production could look like as he finishes out the remaining years on his contract.
Season Win Shares Win Shares/48 Salary (in millions)
2020-21: 4.6 (-1.1) .078 (-.02) $41 m
2021-22: 3.5 (-1.1) .058 (-.02) $43.8 m
2022-23: 2.4 (-1.1) .038 (-.02) $46.6 m
The end of the contract will be brutal but the first season, while not cost-effective, should see Westbrook produce at a high enough level that the Wizards won’t have many complaints. Westbrook’s 4.2 win shares in 57 games would have ranked second on the Wizards last season to Bradley Beal’s 5.1.
The question for the Rockets is do they think that John Wall can beat these projections and if not how much should they get back to give up the better player?
Next: What does the future hold for John Wall?