Is Russell Westbrook Padding His Rebounding Stats by Leaving His Defender? Stats Say He is

Is Russell Westbrook Padding His Rebounding Stats by Leaving His Defender? Stats Say He is


Is Russell Westbrook Padding His Rebounding Stats by Leaving His Defender? Stats Say He is


Barring some complete meltdown in the final three weeks of the season, Russell Westbrook will finish the season averaging a triple double. Scoring was never a concern. He’s taking the most shots in the league now that Kevin Durant is gone. His assists are up because he’s got the ball all the time with Durant in Golden State. But his rebounds? That’s a mild surprise because since Westbrook is doing everything, shouldn’t he be rebounding less with all the size they have?

Some sleuth on Reddit put together an impressive collection of links attempting to prove that Westbrook’s rebounding numbers are so high … because he’s not playing defense. And when the guy he is defending shoots a three-pointer, Westbrook is nowhere to be found.

A sample:

Westbrook has contested a grand total of 160 FG’s on the ENTIRE SEASON.

That number is staggeringly low and to be frank, flat out embarrassing. …

Westbrook ranks dead last in the NBA in contested shots among players averaging 30 or more MPG by a considerable margin. Hilariously, the only two players who have contested less 3P FGA’s are Rudy Gobert and Whiteside, who have contested 53 and 64 respectively. Russell Westbrook is at 69 while having playing [sic] close to the same amount of minutes…Yes, DeAndre Jordan has contested more 3P FGA’s this season than Russell Westbrook.!?sort=CONTESTED_SHOTS_3PT&dir=-1&Season=2016-17&SeasonType=Regular%20Season&CF=MIN*GE*1400&PerMode=Totals

Some people may point to other names on that list, i.e. Jimmy Butler, showing they have fairly lower contest numbers as well. The difference being Jimmy Butler’s counterpart is attempting 4 fewer FGA than Westbrook’s.

Westbrook is contesting approximately 3.4 of his PG matchup’s 13.1 FGA while on the floor. The player he’s supposed to be defending is attempting 74% of their shots without a contest from Westbrook. Butler on the other hand is right around 45%.

Ignoring the fact that he [is] leaving his man with regularity to chase rebounds, even when Westbrook contests shots he’s the worst guard in the league in expected FG% against.

His opp. +6.9% over expected FG% is dead last in the NBA among guards. The only other players over 4.5% are Sean Kilpatrick, Kyle Korver, and Emmanuel Mudiay.

There’s more in there about how when Westbrook is on the line for free throws, his teammates box out so he can swoop in and collect rebounds. Maybe this is all part of Billy Donovan’s plan – let Westbrook grab all the rebounds so he can race upcourt and we can get early offense started. The Thunder are 3rd in fastbreak points per game.

Let me guess: Thunder fans are going to shrug their shoulders at all of these stats. That’s fine. You lost Kevin Durant, so you’re going to cling to Westbrook like grim death.

Except there is one glaring issue with Westbrook constantly leaving the opposing team’s point guard – according to the Reddit poster, the Thunder rank last in the NBA in opponent’s guards’ expected field goal percentage. (on, Russell Westbrook is listed as allowing 48.8% shooting percentage, well below average). If someone presents that information to Billy Donovan, could that actually help the Thunder defensively? The Thunder are currently 10th in defensive efficiency, and 20th in effective field goal percentage defense.

Is any of this going to impact MVP voters?

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