As a 9x All-Star, 2x scoring champion, and 2017 NBA MVP, Russell Westbrook is easily one of the best guards in the NBA and most fans have him within the top ten players in the entire league.
But on a recent list published by Bleacher Report's Andy Bailey and Dan Favale, they ranked Russ as the 22nd best player, behind guys like Kyle Lowry, Jayson Tatum, and Bradley Beal. Their reasoning? His abysmal shooting percentages, particularly during the first half of the 2019-20 season.
Slotting Russell Westbrook any higher would demand selective memory.
His downhill attacks are a different kind of terrifying—and almost impossible to stop—when he's not forced to navigate cramped spaces. He's even upped his accuracy from downtown, to 35.5 percent, while curbing his volume.
Still, the first part of the season happened. Westbrook was on course for the fourth-worst true shooting percentage of his career prior to Jan. 1 while firing up far too many threes, during which time the Rockets failed to keep their head above water whenever he played without James Harden. Opponents outscored them by 4.3 points per 100 possessions, with a sub-105 offensive rating, through his solo stints.
Obviously this drew a ton of criticism online from angry fans who were appalled by the low ranking. Russ himself even took notice, literally laughing off BR's list in a comment on Instagram.
(note: Russ is ranked 22nd, not 23rd)
Russ is known for his aggressive and intense playstyle. Seeing this list will likely only fuel him to play even harder this postseason.
As for Bleacher Report, their explanation for Russ' ranking makes sense, even if it's a bit harsh. Though he's rebounded nicely since the beginning of the season, he was shooting an awful efficiency, and his team was worse-off for it.
It seems the only way for him to prove himself is by helping the Rockets make the NBA Finals. Of course, with all the competition in their own conference, that won't be easy...