So Westbrook is no longer the household name he once was in Oklahoma City, 2 consecutive first round exits alongside Paul George lead to the Thunder blowing things up and rebuilding around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The experiment with Westbrook and Harden being coached by Mike D’Antoni was a disaster waiting to happen, two players taking 20-30 shots a night and everyone else just spotting up at the 3 point line ready for a pass off a double team from Harden or Westbrook. Westbrook struggled in the bubble and suffered defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round but now he will be playing somewhere he is actually wanted and Bradley Beal can’t wait to play with him. You look at the roster around Beal and Westbrook and the only thing you can hope for is Rui Hachimura takes a leap in his development and the Wizards could make the playoffs and likely even make it to the second round this coming season.
The question we should be asking ourselves is how far in the playoffs can Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal go? Without John Wall last season if not for the pandemic the Wizards had a shot at the 8th seed, Westbrook will take a huge load off Beal and give the Wizards a true floor general. Not that John Wall wouldn’t have been but how much are the Wizards losing in this swap? Westbrook proved he could carry the Thunder without Kevin Durant when he won the 2017 NBA MVP and lead the Oklahoma City to a 48-34 record not too long ago. Victor Oladipo’s game took off the moment he left Westbrook’s side, James Harden seemed to be his usual self even with the high usage Westbrook on the court it’s just Westbrook’s jumpshot is non-existent during the playoffs. It helps that Bradley Beal won’t take as many shots as James Harden and that will free up more looks for Russell Westbrook not to mention Bradley Beal isn’t much of a play-maker like James Harden and does not iso as much either.
James Harden is not a catch and shoot 3 point shooter but Bradley Beal is which means Beal will be involved in more off the ball action with a play-maker the caliber of Westbrook on the court who could find him by collapsing defenses on drive and kick-outs. The Wizards have enough shooters to put on the court with Westbrook and I believe Scott Brooks will take advantage of Westbrook’s play-making skills and have him bring down his shot attempts and have him play in a more organized offense as opposed to the street-ball he was playing in Houston alongside Harden. Newly drafted rookie Deni Avdija figures to be a decent shooter,Jerome Robinson,Davis Bertans,Bradley Beal,Moritz Wagner,and Rui Hachimura all should be able to provide floor spacing for the Wizards and serve as go to targets for Westbrook.
Westbrook’s contract seems to be the same length of Beal’s so assuming the Wizards make the playoffs this coming season I don’t see why Westbrook and Beal won’t play beyond this coming season together who knows this might be the ideal pairing. Most would probably say Westbrook had a better supporting cast in Houston last season than what he will have this coming season in Washington but I think it is debatable. The Wizards have a legitimate center in Thomas Bryant who the Wizards elected to re-sign since he was a player Bradley Beal wanted around , he can get you 15-20 points a night and provide some rim protection and rebounding as well. Rui Hachimura has a diverse skill-set and figures to be a go to scoring option for the Wizards going into the future, Hachimura should be more than capable of being the third option the Wizards will need behind Beal and Westbrook. New rookie Deni Avdija could be in for a learning curve his first season but his passing and unselfish style of play will only help improve the Wizards.
To conclude there was once a time I felt Russell Westbrook would retire with the Oklahoma City Thunder but now he is replacing another long-tenured all-star John wall in Washington. If Westbrook learns from his failures this past season and falls in line in Washington behind Scott Brooks I am sure Brooks and Westbrook can make a surprise appearance in the Conference Finals this coming season. Saying Westbrook will carry the Wizards to the NBA Finals is farf-etched but not impossible, Westbrook and Beal are capable of taking over a game single handed-ly any given night and come playoff time both are capable of big performances and could upset any top team in the Eastern Conference. There is no clear cut favorite in the East this coming season and the Wizards have the best back-court in the Conference, if Hachimura makes the leap remember this post when the Wizards are in the NBA Finals.