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Analyzing the Houston Rockets trade of Russell Westbrook for John Wall

Russell Westbrook (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets
John Wall of the Washington Wizards (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

How do John Wall and Russell Westbrook stack up?

John Wall and Russell Westbrook have drawn comparisons throughout their careers due to the similarity in their game’s aesthetics. The two point-guards have routinely wowed crowds with their incredible speed and coast-to-coast drives that crescendoed in an acrobatic or emphatic finish.

However, the similarities end there between the two. At their core, they are two very different players. Wall is a facilitator and Westbrook is a finisher.

Russell Westbrook throughout his career has posted gaudy assist totals but he has done so largely as a product of extremely high usage-rates. If the ball is constantly in your hands you’re going to rack up assists even if facilitating is not your first priority.

For Westbrook’s career, he has averaged 8.3 assists per-game with a usage-rate of 32.7-percent. Wall, on the other hand, has averaged 9.2 assists per game on a usage-rate of 27.4-percent.

While a gap of only 0.9 assists per game is a small number, it becomes a lot larger when one player has the ball about 5-percent more than the other player. A better way to visualize the difference is to compare the two’s assist-rate compared to their usage-rate, because both approximate how often one player assists or has the ball when they’re on the floor.

 John Wall              Russell Westbrook

Usage Rate:            27.4%                                32.7%

Assist Rate:            42.4%                                42.3%

Ratio:                        1.5                                      1.3 

When John Wall has the ball he’s looking to set his teammates up in a way that Westbrook doesn’t. On the other hand, Westbrook is a much more determined scorer.

Over the course of Westbrook’s career, he has averaged 27.2 field-goal attempts per 100 possession, far outpacing John Wall’s 22.4. The difference has led to Westbrook averaging 4.2 more points per game.

Statistically, John Wall is much more akin to the classic point-guard who looks to set up his teammates, while Russell Westbrook is a combo-guard who can be tasked with distribution or scoring.

This isn’t to say one is necessarily better or worse but to highlight that the two players are actually very different. For all of the comparisons that get heaped on players, the John Wall-Russell Westbrook one never had much merit outside of the fact that they’re fast.

Next: How will Wall fit next to Harden? 

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