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Why trading for a former NBA MVP was bad for the Wizards

By Patrick Donnelly–

This past NBA offseason, the Washington Wizards made a blockbuster trade for former MVP Russell Westbrook. In exchange, the Wizards gave up the face of their franchise, John Wall, along with a 2023 first round pick. At face value, this seemed like a win for the Wizards, who received the electric guard while getting rid of the injury-plagued Wall. However, the trade hasn’t played out as hoped for Washington, who has struggled immensely, partially due to the sub par play from Westbrook. Was this trade a bust?

Washington is currently 10-17, which places them at 13th in the Eastern Conference. Westbrook has been a liability on defense, making the Wizards the worst defensive team in the NBA so far this year. As a team, they allow 115.5 points per 100 possessions, which is second worst in the league. The team defense has been terrible, which has led to the Wizards and Westbrook constantly being outscored and outworked.

Westbrook and Wall were swapped on December 3, 2020. Photo by Keith Allison.

This season hasn’t exactly been perfect for Westbrook on the offensive end either. According to data from Basketball Reference, Westbrook ranks in the bottom 10 percent of the league for scoring efficiency in a variety of situations: in isolation plays, as the ball handler during the pick and roll and when he’s down low in the post. Additionally, he turns the ball over 4.8 times per game, which is more than anybody in the league.

On the other side of the trade, John Wall plays well for the Rockets. Although their record doesn’t quite show it, Wall has been an offensive bring spot for the team. He is shooting a career high 37% from three, which is surprising given he is coming off of nearly two years of injury.

The Wizards should have seen this disaster coming. The average peak for an NBA player is 27 years old, and Westbrook is now 32. Coming off of multiple knee surgeries, he has lost his explosiveness. The Washington Post shows how negative of an impact Westbrook has been this season. He is no longer the triple double machine he once was.

Not only is Westbrook hurting the Wizards on the court, but it is possible he is hurting them off the court, as well. With a track record of chemistry issues, Westbrook is not a consistent leader. With a young roster, the Wizards need somebody who can be a positive role model.

The Wizards are paying a pretty penny for Westbrook as well, with his annual salary topping $41,000,000. They aren’t getting much bank for their buck.

The Westbrook trade was a disaster for the Wizards and a win for the Rockets.

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