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“Battle-Tested”: Former NBA Champion Defends Russell Westbrook After Disappointing Season at Orlando Bubble

“Battle-Tested”: Former NBA Champion Defends Russell Westbrook After Disappointing Season at Orlando Bubble

When the Houston Rockets traded for Russell Westbrook, they were hailed as contenders. But things didn’t go to plan. During the playoffs, they somehow beat the Thunder in seven only to get thrashed by the Lakers in the second round. A lot of the blame fell on Westbrook, who underperformed heavily.

So unsurprisingly, he has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism. The latest was Max Kellerman on ESPN’s First Take, who said, “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.”

But Westbrook’s former teammate Kendrick Perkins didn’t take this well. He argued that it was because Russ was a team player.

“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.  But if you were starting a franchise right now, you are not going to pick Paul George over Russell Westbrook.”

Did Russell Westbrook have a better season than Paul George?

Perkins then spoke about how Westbrook was better this season than George.

Perkins said, “Paul George didn’t even play better than Westbrook this season. 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?”

During the regular season, Westbrook averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and seven assists per game. He still shot poorly from deep, shooting just 25%. But this earned him an All-Star spot and an All-NBA third team nod, while George got neither.

Individually Westbrook had a better season than George, but both were abysmal in the playoffs. Regular-season achievements are commendable. But when you fail to replicate the same performance in the playoffs, you let the team down.

Maybe this has given rise to the Westbrook trade rumors. The Rockets would like a better playoff performer next to their franchise star James Harden, in a bid to finally grab some silverware.

Houston Rockets stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook celebrating
Sep 8, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook (left) celebrates with guard James Harden (13) after dunking against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of game three in the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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