Thursday September 15th, 2016

If you’re bothered by Westbrook’s placement here relative to a certain Clippers point guard’s​ ranking at No. 4, I’d encourage you to read that post for a detailed examination of what separates these two superstars. How does one even attempt to stop Russell Westbrook? Defenders who have backed off and given him space are generally run over. Those that give his drives the attention they deserve are often burned by his passing. Showing resistance at the rim sometimes only serves to send Westbrook to the line (7.8 free throw attempts per game, seventh in the league) to bolster his efficiency. Attempts to bait him into bad shots or bad passes can so easily backfire; there are real risks to getting too cute with the coverage of a player who can blow by or rise over most any defender put in front of him. Quicker opponents can be taken into the post and overpowered. Longer ones often can’t move their feet fast enough to put that length to use. This is the fundamental quandary that every one of Westbrook’s opponents must confront. The speed at which Westbrook operates demands the tailoring of a defensive system to stop him. Otherwise, the rotations might not come in time or might come in too eager numbers, leaving open shooters and dunkers for Westbrook to pick out. That Westbrook repeats this process, again and again, over full minutes for an entire season is exhausting to opponents. You will not catch Westbrook on his night off because there are no nights off. There is only the constant need to focus, to shuffle, to communicate, and to batten down the hatches. (Last year: No. 7)

+ Ranked second in the league in adjusted assists (a total of assists, secondary assists, and free throw assists)
The league’s preeminent rebounding guard. Posted a similar total rebounding percentage last season to Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo
Freelancing defender who doesn’t pay much attention to the details
Not the best finisher around the basket, in part due to the volume and difficulty of his drives

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