Is Russell Westbrook’s stellar 2019-20 Rockets season being overlooked?

Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

In spite of Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook’s stellar 2019-20 campaign, many have seemingly forgotten about the value the former MVP provides.

After the Houston Rockets acquired Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder, there were questions regarding how Westbrook, a non-shooter, would fit in the Rockets’ offensive philosophy of heaving threes. As expected, it took time for the Rockets and Westbrook to mesh, as he averaged 21.7 points on 21.6 percent from long-range and 39.8 percent from the floor through his first 19 games in the Space City.

Such a slow start isn’t uncommon for superstars upon joining a new team, and especially with Westbrook having had knee surgery in the offseason, which also surely was a factor in his early struggles. Westbrook bounced back as the season progressed, as he was one of the best players in the league from the start of the 2020 calendar year to the league’s stoppage in March.

During that span, the Houston Rockets star averaged 31.7 points, 6.8 assists, and 8.1 rebounds, while making 52.7 percent of his shots and 31.5 percent of his 3-pointers. Although many have stated that Westbrook needed Clint Capela to be traded in order to reach his maximum potential, Westbrook’s statistics don’t exactly align with that premise.

During Westbrook’s stellar start to the 2020 calendar year, he played alongside Capela for nine of the 23 games before the league’s stoppage, and posted averages of 32.8 points, 7.9 assists, 8.8 rebounds, and 53.7 percent from the floor. Westbrook’s long-range shooting was the only regression he had during that span with Capela on the roster, as he made just 27.7 percent of his threes.

Has Houston Rockets’ Russell Westbrook’s stellar year gone forgotten?

The latest news involving Westbrook is that the Rockets have been mulling trade offers, with the most significant trade rumor involving Westbrook being shipped away for Washington Wizards star John Wall, although such deal wasn’t executed. We’d heard that Westbrook doesn’t hold much value around the league, which seems odd, considering the overall season Westbrook compiled.

The 2016-17 MVP joined LeBron James and Luka Doncic as the only three players to accumulate at least 1500 total points, 450 rebounds, and 400 assists, in spite of Westbrook missing 15 games, which certainly could have put him in a more limited club.

The lasting image of Westbrook last season was his play in the postseason, which has led many within the Rockets’ fanbase to justify a trade, but such a view of his season is unfair, as Westbrook was injured towards the end of the season and was certainly hindered during the postseason by his quadriceps injury. But what shouldn’t go unnoticed is the fact that he had his best scoring season since leading the league in scoring in 2016-17, and his field goal percentage and effective field goal percentages were the best of his Hall of Fame career.

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The lack of reported league-wide interest in the 2019-20 All-NBA guard is further reason why the Rockets’ best option was to hold on to Westbrook, but it’s also further proof of how his All-Star 2019-20 season has gone overlooked.