Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook are vastly underrated. Some people bash Steph for his lack of defense and a pass-first kind of mentality, while others state Westbrook is nothing but a stat-padder.
Truth to be told, they’re two of the most entertaining, impressive and talented players to watch in the game and regardless of what haters or basketball purists may say, I would love to have both on my team.
But, if you had to choose one over the other, who would you pick? That’s no easy task, and you’d be great either way. Still, just for the sake of the argument, let ’s break it down and try to see who’s better.
Inside Scoring: Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook makes most of his damage from within close range. He’s not much of an outside shooter and thrives off his strength, quickness, and athleticism. He has a great mid-range game and is one of the most explosive drivers and dunkers in the league. Curry’s inside scoring comes mostly from layups and floaters.
Outside Scoring: Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry is the greatest shooter ever. He owns pretty much all three-point shot related records and is bound to break the few that are still missing in no time. We’re talking about a guy that shoots 11.8 three-pointers a night and knocks down 5.1 of those. Westbrook, on the other hand, is shooting a horrid 28% from deep this season.
Playmaking: Russell Westbrook
Both are extremely prolific playmakers, but Curry’s role in Golden State’s offense is quite different, so they don’t need him to dish as much as they need him to score. Westbrook is a way more ball-dominant point guard and averages more assists per game. Per his career, Westbrook dishes 8.3 assists per game compared to Curry’s 6.6. Also, his career-high is 24 assists compared to Curry’s 16.
Athleticism: Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook is one of the most athletic players in the league, while Stephen Curry can barely dunk. Westbrook’s hops are incredible and his ability to find gaps and make the most of his wingspan is just off the charts. This guy even dented his own face once by hitting the backboard. Westbrook truly hates the rim.
Defense: Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook is actually a top-10 player right now if we talk about a defensive rating (102.2), while Curry isn’t much of a backcourt stopper. Klay Thompson often checks Curry’s guy to hide him on defense. Curry averages 1.3 steals per game compared to Westbrook’s 1.8, although their career-highs are quite similar (1.8 for Westbrook and 1.7 for Curry).
Rim Protection: Russell Westbrook
Neither of them is much of a rim protector, to be honest, but Westbrook’s a slightly better one thanks to his defensive awareness, hops, and athleticism. Curry’s career-high for blocks is just 2 and averages 0.3 per game. Westbrook’s average is quite similar at 0.5, but his career-high is slightly superior at 4.
Rebounding: Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook is the best rebounding guard in the league and it’s not even close. His haters may say he snags boards out of Steven Adams’ hands to get triple-doubles, but numbers just don’t lie. Throughout his career, he’s averaged 7 boards per game compared to Curry’s 4.5. Moreover, Curry’s career-high for boards is 14, while Westbrook’s is 20.
Clutch: Stephen Curry
Russell Westbrook won’t hesitate to take that last shot, but he definitely should. Throughout his career, he’s bricked three after three in crunch time and tends to make a lot of mistakes in close-game situations due to his overconfidence. Curry, on the other hand, has made a living out of hitting daggers and cold-blooded shots, including a half-court beauty against Westbrook and the Thunder.
Leadership: Stephen Curry
Once again, Curry gets the nod here thanks to his ability to carry his teammates even when some of their stars are injured. Westbrook is not much of a leader as he fails to do what’s best for the team in order to be on the spotlight. Curry has led his team to 3 Championships, while Westbrook has none.
Basketball IQ: Stephen Curry
Russell Westbrook tends to make a lot of avoidable mistakes and seems careless with the rock on his hands from time to time, especially in the clutch. Curry always knows where he should be or where to find one of his teammates and rarely makes a bad play when it matters the most. Also, Westbrook would rather go 1-on-1 in iso instead of running a play for one of his teammates.
Better Scorer: Stephen Curry
While Westbrook may be deadlier from close range, Stephen Curry has unlimited range and a vast offensive repertoire. Westbrook can score in bunches, but no other player can get hot as fast as Steph. Westbrook may have 2 scoring titles compared to Curry’s 1, but if Curry didn’t have Thompson or Durant next to him, that’d be different.
Impact: Stephen Curry
While Russell Westbrook is a much better defender than Stephen Curry, Curry’s impact is way bigger than Westbrook’s. Defenses need to change the way they play against Steph. You can’t double him, yet you can’t leave him open either. He can pull the strings of the offense and make his teammates better when his shot is not falling, something Westbrook can’t seem to do.
Off-Ball Movement: Stephen Curry
Curry is arguably the best off-ball player in the league. He goes between screens, cuts, drives, and kicks, and somehow, he’s always open. He just never stops moving, and that makes defenders go crazy. Besides his incredible stroke from deep, he always finds the way to be on a favorable situation for him to pull up.
Efficiency: Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry is a perennial member of the exclusive 50-40-90 club, something just a handful of players can brag about. Westbrook, on the other hand, is more of a volume scorer and not necessarily that translates to efficiency. Throughout his career, Westbrook has posted shooting splits of 43/30/80, while Curry has been way more prolific at 47/43/90.
1 on 1 Game: Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook could beat everybody in the league 1-on-1, and he won’t hesitate to let you know about it. Westbrook is way more aggressive, faster, more athletic, and a better defender than Stephen Curry. Obviously, shooting will give Westbrook the upper hand, but he could also lock him up on isolation.