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Monday, October 17th, 2011 at 4:17 pm  |  105 responses

Top 50: Russell Westbrook, no. 12

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Cub Buenning / @cubbuenning

This past spring I felt sorry for an All-NBA superstar that was in the process of leading his team farther than his city had ever witnessed. This guy was already a top-20 talent, all at the ripe age of just 22.

No, my sympathy for this precocious newbie was not that he was learning the toughest position in basketball, the point guard. A life-long, slashing springboard of a two-guard was suddenly put in charge of one of the League’s most up-and-coming teams. Hard to really feel sorry for the guy, considering he went through his brief two years of college ball as maybe the fourth or fifth option on his own team. He has never really had to deal with major stardom, until now.

But here was Russell Westbrook this past May, suddenly the ire of 99 percent of basketball fans (and unfortunately several “experts”) for being a “ball hog” and for not getting the ball to teammate Kevin Durant enough. The bulk of sporting fans that had seen limited, if any, Oklahoma City basketball, were wondering why was this guy still shooting the ball? They were perplexed as Westbrook made daring drives into highly-stocked enemy territory. And for this, I felt bad for the SoCal native, because contrary to the “popular” belief, this was nothing new for both Westbrook and the Thunder. This style of play was how the young squad had become a 50-win team.

Check the records.

Yes, Durant has quickly become a 30-point a night scorer, but he is not the most dangerous, complete and/or valuable player on his team.

All of those distinctions, like it or not, go to Westbrook. The OKC offensive attack begins and often ends in #0’s hands. Defensively, Russ has the ability to both slow down the opponents’ desire to run or lock up a dominate 2-guard with his mix of length and athleticism. Westbrook is a way-above average rebounder and will often control unfathomable caroms amongst the tall trees. He has not missed a game in his three-year career; he is money at the free-throw line, all while logging almost 40 minutes per game. Westbrook is obviously still learning to come to grips with the need for a “pass-first” mentality in his role as the primary ball-handler, but his team needs him to score, as well. They need him to score a lot.

In fact, due to Westbrook’s rare talent, I would encourage Head Coach Scott Brooks to encourage his young leader to shoot more. To trust his lighting-quick first-step and off-the-charts athleticism and take over games when needed. While the Thunder have a bevy of riches assembled by the brightest young (not sure if we can still call him that, but…) mind in GM Sam Presti, there isn’t a lot of on-the-ball wizardry. The frontcourt is full of role players (Nick Collison, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins) and the backcourt isn’t necessarily loaded with creators. James Harden is the perfect compliment and Eric Maynor is much like Westbrook (a converted college scoring 2-guard) only a little less awesome in every department.

I am leaving Durant out of most of this discussion because of the old NBA-adage that you need multiple stars and more than one go-to-guy. I don’t want or expect less from KD35, but I do want to see continued maturity and partnership between the pair. There did seem to be a little dissension between Westbrook and his team during some key moments of the Western Conference Finals series with Dallas. Keep in mind, again, though, Westbrook could have just as easily stayed at UCLA and been just coming off his rookie season. He is still 22. And Durant is just 23.

Roll through our distinguished list and see how many teams have multiple players in the top-15. Westbrook is deserved in this spot and quite possibly might leapfrog his teammate in the next few years. Scouts talk about ceilings often and with Westbrook’s still developing skill-set, I feel Durant’s roof might not be as vaulted as that of his teammate.

Personally, I live in a Northwest Division city and the Thunder not only eliminated the team I have watched closely since the mid-80’s but they are blatantly the class of the division. Funny thing, is after watching this Thunder team closely for the past few years, I wish they called the Pepsi Center their home. I wish this very roster wore the powder blue and gold of the Denver Nuggets. This team is just that exciting and fun to watch.

Sympathy is not something I think most of my fellow basketball fans will ever feel for Westbrook, but I just wish sports fans had watched the Thunder before last year’s playoffs. They might understand why I felt this way.

SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2011
Rank Player Team Position Pos. Rank
50 Luol Deng Bulls SF 8
49 Andrew Bogut Bucks C 7
48 Ray Allen Celtics SG 9
47 Marc Gasol Grizzlies C 6
46 David West Hornets PF 15
45 Kevin Martin Rockets SG 8
44 Andrew Bynum Lakers C 5
43 Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 11
42 Lamar Odom Lakers PF 14
41 Gerald Wallace Blazers SF 7
40 Brook Lopez Nets C 4
39 Joakim Noah Bulls C 3
38 Carlos Boozer Bulls PF 13
37 Kevin Garnett Celtics PF 12
36 Eric Gordon Clippers SG 7
35 Tony Parker Spurs PG 10
34 Andre Iguodala 76ers SG 6
33 Al Jefferson Jazz PF 11
32 Al Horford Hawks C 2
31 Stephen Curry Warriors PG 9
30 Tim Duncan Spurs PF 10
29 Josh Smith Hawks PF 9
28 Manu Ginobili Spurs SG 5
27 Tyreke Evans Kings PG 8
26 Rudy Gay Grizzlies SF 6
25 John Wall Wizards PG 7
24 Danny Granger Pacers SF 5
23 Monta Ellis Warriors SG 4
22 Joe Johnson Hawks SG 3
21 Paul Pierce Celtics SF 4
20 Steve Nash Suns PG 6
19 Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 8
18 LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 7
17 Chris Bosh Heat PF 6
16 Kevin Love TWolves PF 5
15 Rajon Rondo Celtics PG 5
14 Blake Griffin Clippers PF 4
13 Pau Gasol Lakers PF 3
12 Russell Westbrook Thunder PG 4

Notes
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’11-12 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Maurice Bobb, Shannon Booher, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Jon Jaques, Eldon Khorshidi, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Quinn Peterson, Dave Schnur, Abe Schwadron, Dan Shapiro, Irv Soonachan, Todd Spehr, Tzvi Twersky, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Ben York.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    yessssssss westbroooooooooooooook

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    I knew it! Anyways, cue in the Rondo vs Westbrook debate. lol

  • Shem

    The moment I read “Westbrook is deserved in this spot and quite possibly might leapfrog his teammate in the next few years.” I completely disregarded this article. You clearly have not been watching Thunder games if you think Westbrook will ever be a better player then Durant.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    I like the write up Cub, until you wrote you encourage him to shoot more? More? He shoots only two less shot a game then Kevin Durant (1 less then Derrick Rose) as it is. And as i’ve been saying since way before the playoffs last season, the Thunder are better on offense without Westbrook altogether, I don’t think giving him more free reign is a great idea. I mean I realize he is a great player, and is in the right range (in terms of ranking) for his production, but he is overrated if he is going to be encouraged to keep playing like a shooting guard. The Thunder will always be on the outside looking in, until he learns to manage a game. The main responsibility of any PG.

  • seriousblack

    Westbrook at no. 12 in the league? FAIL!

  • B

    Forget all that debate… U have to appreciate his game… He single handedly beat the celtics last year with Durant out n I do believe he had a triple double on top of that… This guy is one helluva ball player n he is still learning… Second team all NBA already so this spot is well deserved… So to everybody gettin ready to hate, stop just for a second and look at his body of work already…

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Long as no one tries trying to say he’s better than Rose, Paul or Williams.
    Which I’m sure somebody will…

  • ripslam

    Way too high, and pretty much all of the claims made in this write-up are ridiculous.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    one game in the regular season is not a body of work.

  • zach

    The idea that a point guard who barely understands the position may someday surpass Durant is a bad joke. Sorry but not only is this ranking too high, but the writer was high when he wrote.

  • golden state

    the sad thing is that i could see westbrook leaving durant and wanting to be “the man”. only then will he realize how difficult it is to be the number one option on the team. marbury learned that, a young kobe learned that, and one day westbrook will learn it too. sad cause if he stays with durant who knows how many rings they can win

  • seriousblack

    Well, let’s hope the kid doesn’t read a write-up like this one. He already seems to believe his own hype. I like Westbrook’s game a lot but his maturity issues will get in his way if he doesn’t recognize who his team’s leader is.

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    you know durant likes playing with westbrook… that should tell you guys something.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Whether or not OKC is better with him on the bench (nonsense) is irrelevant, the guy is still the 4th best PG in the L and a great player. One bad playoff series doesn’t make you overrated (ask LeBron, Kobe, KD, DWade and every other star)

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    The team isn’t better with him on the bench. The offense is. The defense is way way way worse without him. And I can’t even call him a PG. Just because he is forced to start their doesn’t mean that’s his position. There are 3 PG’s in the NBA he is worse at basketball than, but there are atleast 5 PG’s he’s worse at being a PG than.

  • JEr dawg

    “Yes, Durant has quickly become a 30-point a night scorer, but he is not the most dangerous, complete and/or valuable player on his team.”
    I don’t disagree Westbrook is very gifted. I don’t have problem with Westbrook being slotted here. In my opinion I’d like Blake to be at this spot. He single handedly gave Clippers hope and his stats back up his production. He’s had to do it all alone for the most part. Westbrook being dubbed as “most dangerous, complete, and/or valuable” is to discredit his own teammate who iS everything used to describe Westbrook. He gets heat because he is doing the Kobe thing and trying to break the offense alone. If Durant had the ball in his hands more often than the point guard he’d render Russell into a role player. I’m sure of it. Russell is selfish and a ball hog. His ability is awesome, but I don’t agree with him being better than Durant. Place Russell in top 10 then. I’d like to see Russell carry the team all season long himself like Blake Griffin for him warranting this spot in Slam’s top 50

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    datkid, find any time ever Kevin Durant has said something even remotely negative about his teammates? Also, you can like playing with someone but not like certain things about the way they play. Like how Russell Westbrook has atleast 5 possessions every game where he goes 1 on 5, for example.

  • Shem

    Westbrook’s got game. That’s not the issue. My problem is the ranking. I do think that he shoots often but the Thunder don’t really have other play makers. Ibaka, Perkins and Sefelosha are mainly there for defense while Harden is a spot up shooter. My issue is how high his ranking is. He’s good but not 12th in the league good.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    The team needs him to score. If he doesn’t score, Durant is the only scorer on the floor many times, which allows the other teams to load up on him, and Durant still isn’t a great passer.
    So he should sore. He just has to learn how to score smarter. Tony Parker and Chauncey have figured it out. Deron Williams too. I think Russell will eventually.

  • http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/wizards/a-quick-guide-to-the-issues-of-the-nba-lockout/2011/10/11/gIQAon1ZbL_story.html unf*ckwitable

    He is better then Rose, Paul and Williams.

  • Dr. DL

    Man of all the unduly hated on players in the league, Westbrook gets it the worst. It’s so bad that I don’t even want to read the comments myself and I’m not even really a Thunder fan (except insofar as I appreciate their talent and enjoy watching them). The Blazers are my team but I feel protective of this guy because of how “en vogue” it suddenly is to hate him. I agree with this article and this ranking. And I think Russ could leapfrog a few people in the rankings next year. Cub wrote a very objective piece here and is clearly without bias except for the aforementioned natural bias that comes when basketball fans can’t help but appreciate good basketball. Let’s be honest, Westbrook is a great scorer and a good point guard. Considering he’s only been playing the position for a short few years now, I think that is extraordinary. Without another star to share the load (not just passing him the ball, I mean the scoring load) Durant would be impotent just like any superstar with no backup. When I read outrageous remarks like Shem’s “I completely disregarded this article. You (Cub) clearly have not been watching Thunder games…” I wonder why some people even watch basketball. What was it the announcers used to yell during the NBA on NBC broadcasts all the time, “if you don’t like that, you don’t like NBA basketball!” ? That’s how I feel about players like Westbrook. Even if you hate them personally or if they play for a rival team, as a fan of the sport how can you not at least appreciate what they do? I’ve had to go through all that with Kobe for years now so come on guys stop hating for hate’s sake, this kid can flat out play.

  • MLK4Life

    @unf*ckwitable
    No. He is not better than those three. But he’s a good player with the potential to be great. He has the potential to be the fourth best PG behind Paul, Williams and Rose. He took a lot of unnecessary criticsm. I wouldn’t trade him unless I got Paul, Williams, or Rose in return. Great things are on the horizon for Westbrook. There’s no dissension between he and Durant. They’re good friends. The media created nonsense which they are known to do. This team will be running the Western Conference once Kobe and the Lakers subside.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Damn you, unf*ckwitable!!!! lol

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Fair enough but you’ve got to give the kid time. The guy never played PG in college, so how do you expect him to all of a sudden master the position at the professional level? It’s like asking a guy that played WR in college to all of a sudden become a great QB in the NFL, it’s either never going to happen or it takes years for him to become good at it.
    For those you like to compare Rose and Russ, y’all need to stop. Rose has been playing PG his entire life, so of course he’s going to have better success at the 1 in the the NBA.

  • Shifty

    He is placed way too high. Can’t remember when but when he was having crap games possibly against the mavs in the playoffs and he got bencehed he acted how big baby acted when he got his nick name……when things don’t go his way he has a lil whine about it. And when it comes to him running a team this is when the rondo/westbrook thing comes to play because rondo would run that team like a mother f$%ker from hell, he would probly utilize ibaka more because i reackon he had a really good post season and also durant would probably be averaging more points which is rediculous. Rondo is just more efficient, he doesnt score much but i think he has had one of the highest FG% for point gaurds over the last 2 or 3 years. I think they have about the same rebounding potential tho westbrook is a bit higher and we all know who wins the assist. Both guys are triple double threats. But Rondo is more mature and Westbrook is a lil kid.

  • MLK4Life

    To just be learning the position, I’d say he’s doing a great job. People need to back off. Let the kid grow. Name a young duo you’d take over Durant and Westbrook.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Sometimes I wonder why they don’t just go ahead and play the kid at the 2 though.
    I mean, I get it, he’s a perfect size for the 1, and they have Harden for the 2, but Westbrook has always been a 2, why not let dude play his position?
    I mean, they tried to make Dwyane Wade play the 1 out of college because he was undersized, but he’s obviously had more success since moving back to his natural position.
    I’m in no way saying Westbrook can become Wade, just saying to me dude is a natural 2.

  • MLK4Life

    Rondo wouldn’t be better in OKC. Stop it. No need to guard him unless he gets below the free throw line. He can’t shoot. Westbrook can. Teams would double KD like crazy.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    I am not expecting him to master the position this fast. I think its obscene that these expectations are even put on him. As far as I’m concerned he has overachieved to the fullest in his short career and is an overwhelming success. But that doesn’t mean he should be overrated as a player. People are basically looking at his potential and lauding him like he has already lived up to it. He is scoring 22 a game with 8 assists and he has literally no idea how to properly play the position he has been commissioned to play for the last 300 games. That is very impressive, and only speaks to his POTENTIAL, but that’s all he is as a PG, just a giant mound of potential. As a SG, he would be the 3rd or 4th best in the league, and I would be in full support of that ranking.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    KD’s ’10 playoff run vs the Lakers was worse than Westbrook’s (’11 WCF vs Dal) and all I heard was excuses for why KD struggled yet no one seems to be giving Russ the same kind of treatment. All I hear is “he’s overrated”, “he’s holding back KD from winning a chip”, “OKC is better with Eric Freaking Maynor at the point”. Maybe Westbrook wouldn’t shoot so much if KD learned how to move without the ball instead of standing there waiting for a miracle to happen? It can’t all be Westbrook’s fault, KD (their best player) has to take some blame also.

  • Okcnative

    As an oklahoman and a devout thunder fan, I can appreciate your mention of others only knowing russ from his finals game. None of them have watched him put up 25+ consistently throughout the regular. His lackluster conference finals showing was uncharacteristic.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Enigmatic, great point. I’ve always pictured Westbrook as a DWade type player, one that could pass the ball like a PG but shouldn’t be asked to run the point full time. He has similar skills to Wade (top-notch slashing ability, good-midrange, size/strength, supreme athleticism, great rebounder, borderline great defender and the ability to draw fouls). I’m not saying he can be good as DWade but the similarities are there.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    KD ain’t winning a chip without a guy like Russ, maybe it would happen sooner if it were CP3 or something, but in no way is he going to win anything with Westbrook (or a player of his caliber) – He is overrated, slightly – And Maynor runs the offense better, but he doesn’t, make the team better as a whole. — And a lot of the offensive blame in OKC should fall on Scott Brooks, especially more then it falls on either of their superstars, that guy’s imagination is right in the Mike Brown neighborhood

  • http://redoftoothandclaw.ca/ niQ

    @Enigmatic, I’m guessing the coach wanted to start Thabo and Westbrook at the same time, and seeing how Westbrook was better at handling the ball they let him play point guard. Lol.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    win anything without* Westbrook.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Also, it’s not like Scott Brooks is the second coming of PJax. He’s offense is basically PnR and “KD run around screens until you get open”. Those are easy to stop for a great defensive team like Dallas.

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    wade and westbrook are very very very similar to me personally.. cosign j.taylor. and nbk i’m just saying this whole thing about the rift between durant and westbrook is kind of blown out of porportion

  • Shifty

    Must admit the dude can dunk it. Some of those ones he threw down in the world championship were so ruthless.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    oh yeah, I don’t think there is any kind of rift at all. I actually think Durant loves that he has someone else to take a lot of the pressure/blame off of his shoulders. Plus Durant is a stand up guy from all accounts, I could never see him causing problems with a teammate just because of the way he plays.

  • http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/wizards/a-quick-guide-to-the-issues-of-the-nba-lockout/2011/10/11/gIQAon1ZbL_story.html unf*ckwitable

    Im just playing, he aint better then those three PGs. Honestly i think he is a little high at 12 but i can live with it. Cosign some other posters above, i would like to see him at the 2, a player with his ability should be playing is natural position imo.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    No doubt, Westbrook could be Wade jr.

  • Tom

    “Durant has quickly become a 30-point a night scorer, but he is not the most dangerous, complete and/or valuable player on his team. All of those distinctions, like it or not, go to Westbrook.”

    I have all the time in the world for Westbrook, but that claim just isn’t true.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    Co-Sign Nbk @ 4:33

  • ctkennedy

    if KD COULD play point forward n create for his teammates than Westbrook wouldnt be gettin all this blame …He does all the playmakin n out of control play cuz he have too…Harden might be able to help with it ..but u dont want Westbrook has a spot up shooter either so now u limitin his game …when Harden is better at that skill ..OKC title hopes dont ly in Westbrook hands ..its all on the development of Ibaka as a low post scorer…i dont think Durant has the body type to gain the weight he needs to post up enuff…22 8 n 4 with the ability to lock up when needed aint easy to find

  • derrick rose

    d rose number 1

  • derrick rose

    blake grfen is number 4000 and westbrook is 2000 that is realistec

  • http://shinefluid@aol.com yada

    put it this way the thunder wouldnt have gotten that far without westbrook. for all the CRITICAl things u can say about his game he still is the most aggressive and MENTALLY is the stable of the team. I LOVE KD but he seems cool with being in the background. which allows westbrook to say fk it, lemme get mine then!! lol if westbrook wasnt so aggressive even tho he makes mistakes, i dont think they would be as good

  • Shem

    @DR.DL I disregard the article because he just said Westbrook will be a few ranks higher then Durant in a few years. That’s nonsense. The Thunder are one of my favourite teams, I love his game but NO WAY will he ever be a better player than Durant.

  • jarrett

    Didnt Kendrick Perkins tell Westbrook himself “You’re no Rondo” ?? Westbrook is not the 12 best player in the L. I’d switch him with Rondo at this point

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    jarrett, That statement goes vice versa. Rondo: Your no Westbrook. Both PG’s are better for their team than the other would be in that position. Who is better at playing PG? Rondo. Who is a better player? Westbrook. This is a ranking of “best basketball players”. Not a ranking of who plays a position at it’s more natural state better.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    Thanks for all of the comments. Dude is surely a lightning rod. I love KD35, but I truly think Russ is a more complete player. Basketball is SO much more than just shooting the ball and I strongly feel this guy has been wrongly criticized. WCF w Dallas was a mixed-bag for all OKC players, but don’t act like KD35 was wide open on every possession and Russ was shakin’ him off for his own benefit.

  • Shecky Shabazz

    This is my first time posting on this website after being a reader for years. I feel like this list is just bad. I love Russell and I think this is a good spot for him. But I have a lot of problems with the other names. Bynum higher than Bogut; I don’t think so. Bogut is the second or third best center in the L. Love ahead of Z-Bo and LA. A terrible joke. Z-Bo was straight balling in the playoffs and LA lead a team there. What was Love doing? Watching them at home. Eric Gordon should be higher on this list. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, or Al Jefferson won’t have a better season than him in 2011-12 (if there is one). But since this is a Westbrook post I will again say this is a good spot for him. Stop hating on him and give him a break. He’s played point guard for three years.

    P.S. Everyone on this list is lucky that Brian Scalabrine is playing overseas because he would be the number one player on this list (with Kwame Brown at #2).
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C1DVoMJoEI&feature=related

  • Rainman

    @ jarrett:

    Perkins is a bit biased, Rondo isnt the player Westbrook is, Perkins wants easy passes for easy baskets, thats not what Westbrooke will give u all the time, but at least he can put the damn ball in the basket and isnt offensively challenged in every other way.

  • Galagu

    More complete or not; i don’t think ANY team would pass up KD for Russ….so I don’t think he is more valuable than KD. other than that totally agree Russ had to shoot most of those shots (even though some looked real questionable) otherwise KD would have even more trouble getting the ball and having any good looks at the basket.

  • http://shinefluid@aol.com yada

    for ONE perkins and rondo are BEST FRIENDS in real life. so what u expect perk to say. for 2, no one would pass up KD for russ but on THIS CURRENT TEAM. russ is the one that makes them go….MENTALLY

  • http://itsahardwoodlife.blogspot.com omphalos

    “he is not the most dangerous, complete and/or valuable player on his team.” SMDH at this statement. Have you not seen just how devastating Durant has been this summer? How dominant he was in the World Championships last summer? Durant is now, and always will be more valuable and dangerous than Westbrook for the Thunder. Complete is debatable, but the other two are not even close.

  • Lazarus

    LOL

    did u watch the playoffs? this guy is not top 50 let alone top 12.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    When a football team is good at passing the defense will try and make them run right? (presumably making the running game more potent) Well let’s just say Kevin Durant is the “passing game”

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    omphalas, i agree with the WC from last summer, but nothing from this summer should be used as actual evidence in a debate. They aren’t playing competitive basketball. I never have said that I would put Russ over KD35 in a ranking like this, just thought that due to his expanding game and major room for improvement, his ceiling might be higher. BTW, i am one of KD35′s biggest fans.
    Laz, not top 50? obviously, the playoffs were all that you did watch….

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    It kills me to debate against KD35, but….Ball-handling, on/off the ball defense, anticipation/instinct on defense, creating for teammates, athleticism, rebounding,…. should I continue?

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Ball handling in general, sure, but then you can’t say Westbrook is a better rebounder, for their position? KD as a ball handler by a landslide. Westbrook on the boards, but which one is a bigger advantage, 5 rebounds from your PG, or a SF with a 7’6″ wingspan who handles the ball like a guard? Creating for teammates is also tricky, the whole defense, every game is geared around containing Durant so technically if he’s on the court, he creates every scoring opportunity. Plus he isn’t a PG. And then there is the whole basketball IQ portion of the whole thing. Westbrook has better raw athletic potential, and is a much much better defender already. But Durant is a 7’0″ SF with Guard skills and unlimited range. Westbrook will never be able to affect a game in the ways Durant does.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cub Buenning

    nbk, so you’re saying there is at least a debate??? That’s all I’m saying.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    If it is about who is better for the future yeah it’s debatable, not right now though, it’s clear who is better today.

  • JD

    he is not better than Rondo -_-

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    11. Amare
    10. Deron
    9. Dirk
    8. Carmelo
    7. Paul
    6. Durant
    5. Kobe
    4. Rose
    3. Wade
    2. Dwight
    1. LeBron

  • D12FSU

    youre telling me westbrook is better than gasol? false

  • DukeFromDeep

    OVERRATED!!!

  • http://pickandroll.tumblr.com airs

    2nd CABOOSE!!!!

  • http://www.thehoopscene.com lawlow

    damn, this ranking is way too high

  • http://itsahardwoodlife.blogspot.com omphalos

    @Cub; I think some of his performance this summer must be taken into account; yes, the D hasn’t been terrific, but KD is a shooter, and trying to stop KD getting his shot off is exceedingly difficult, even with good D. It’s a make or miss league as they say, and while he hasn’t been in particularly competitive games, his shooting has been off the charts, and this is something I feel will carry over to the next season.

  • DJ MBENGA

    thats stupid that somebody’s dissing westbrook in comparison to rondo because of his maturity issues. remember rondo spent a lot of time on the bench during the only year he won a championship, and he was pissing off doc so much that doc even let it be known in the media that rondo was acting a fool. westbrook is already better than rondo, and he didn’t even play the damn position in college. yea rondo’s a better distributor and passer, but russ outshines him in nearly every other category.

  • DJ MBENGA

    during the NBA Finals in the year they beat the lakers i should have stated

  • http://hoopistani.blogspot.com hoopistani

    I can’t believe the author thinks that Westbrook could leapfrog Durant. Kevin friggin Durant, the most prodigious talent in the league since LeBron James. Are you serious? Westbrook is amazing no doubt, and 12th is a good spot for him, but he is no Durant. He needs to know his role, shoot a little less, and contribute when required of him, while the league’s future best player aka KD35 does his thing.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    The thing is… put Westbrook on the Bulls and they would still play at an amazing level, why?? Because the Bulls succeed with Rose looking after the passing game as the secondary process at PG. The same would apply with Westbrook in that case… put Rose on the Thunder??? They wouldn’t be much better (or worse even) than where they stood this year…. For the record, I would rather have Eric Maynor learn to play that “Eric Snow” style and let Westbrook keep playing the way he does…You’ll be able to play both of them at the 1 & 2 when they both mature.

  • KH10

    Would love to see OKC play Maynor at the 1, let Russ play his more natural position like a Dwade or Monta, KD (hopefully with an improved post game), Ibaka and Perk. With Harden playing the Manu role, then you have Thabo, Collison, Nate, Cook and Nazr. That’s a scary team.

  • http://www.slamonline.com AllBall

    Rose 3 spots above Chris Paul, Caboose? Not going to happen unless only BC and Ryne’s votes count.

  • Truth

    CP3 is overrated these days. 16 and 10 is nothing spectacular and 2 good games against a Lakers squad who 1. Can’t defend the PG spot at all and 2. We’re fairly mediocre throughout the playoffs is not going to change my opinion. He is living off past rep in 2008 he had a remarkable year but that time has past and with this knee injury he’s not the same player. People always say Chris Paul if healthy is the best, well he hasn’t been healthy in two years. I hope he’s not top 5 on this list I’d be fairly disappointed.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    CP3 is overrated, seriously what has this guy done for people to be overvaluing him like this.

  • AD

    ^^Stats dnt lie……. anyway i thinks its hilarious how mass media can shape your views on anything…. imagine watchn a game without the commentators and analyst……… Everone agreed wit espn that westbrook was the problem and should be traded but no 1 said that thunder has only 2 scores in the lineup after tradn greene (which was a mistake) Kdurant is a superstar but sometime still gets pushed around and relies on the jumpshot 2 much……… Westbrook deserves this spot ahead of rondo….. rondo has 3 hall of famers on his sqaud. i believe his number wouldnt look da same if he didnt have great players on his team… Westbrook is more valuable because all he has to work on his passing ability… once thats worked on… cp3 and dwill etc watch out

  • Buron

    I don’t know if the stats from this website are reliable, but if they are, then take a look at Westbrook’s on/off court stats – it speaks for itself.

    http://www.82games.com/1011/ROLRTG8.HTM

  • mugiwara

    Harden should run the offense a bit more, he seems to understand the pg’s role better then russ.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I agree with Dacre, but the only problem is that cuts into Harden’s minutes.

  • TP

    I’m not sure he belongs ahead of Rondo. I don’t watch OKC enough but Rondo is pretty damn good.

  • T-Money

    Allenp: Not necessarily. Just have them switch roles on offense – especially in crunch time – and play Russ off the ball (and keep the normal match ups on defense). I recall Harden initiating the offense at times in the playoffs and the offense looked smooth. Russ is only thinking score in the clutch anyways.

  • jeff

    westbrook averaged 8.2 assists a game during the regular season …how the hell is that selfish…..hes shooot first obviously but thats better than d rose and 95 % of players in the L

  • http://www.jcolemusic.com Showtime

    To me this a good ranking, Russ is a top pg for next decade barring injury. The kid is a beast, He already the best on ball defense pg, brobably the best rebounding pg & also drop 23 and dish of 9 to 10. Harden is not a starter, he a jamal crawford, jr smith, oj mayo type he scores in bunches and really cant gaurd any opposing two which is the key problem.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Allen: Not my ratings, what I think SLAM will be.

  • http://stapledesign.com Spaceship Jay

    Slick Ric; trade him for any championship caliber team’s pg in your head, and then fast-forward where that team would be come playoff time.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Caboose
    that was all-ball not me.

  • zach

    Chris Paul is the best pg in the league. You don’t know basketball if you can’t see it. Flash & speed is cool, being a smart floor general is better.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    So much for being a floor general when you never win. This is not 2008 and cp3 is not the same player. Dont give me anything about him not having a good team either. West is a two-time all-star and tyson chandler was very critical in helping the mavs win championship, he even played with peja when he still had some game left. He has played with enough talent, the dude is overrated.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    New Orleans is the worst team in the NBA without Chris Paul. If you can’t see he’s the best PG in the league, your an idiot

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    cosign nbk… slick rick is tripping. nobody is more efficient and nobody sees the floor better.

  • http://slamonline.com SpaceJam

    And D West was injured. Take Paul out and you have jarret jack, marco bellenelli, trevor ariza, carl landry, and emeka okafor as your starting lineup. You really want to tell me he’s overrated. Just getting that team into the playoffs was a miracle especially considering he wasn’t even at full-strength. He is the best pg in the world when healthy hands down no competition

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    Allenp – Thats a good point… eating into Hardens minutes is a bad thing… add Thabo to the mix (I think they still have him down for next season…?) and there is a serious log jam in the backcourt with effective young guys that all play well with 30+ minutes a game.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    I aint tripping, we all criticize lebron all day and night for not winning a championship, but give this dude all this credit and he barely gets past the first round.smh

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    nbk, watch your mouth boy, no ones an idiot, when cp3 went down the season before last, the pg that plays for Indiana now who name I forgot put up stats that were very comparable to cp3′s and New Orleans didn’t look anywhere near the worst team in the league, they weren’t good, but they were winning around the same pace they were with cp3.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    That was a team with Marcus Thorton. They didn’t make the playoffs. And David West’s knee wasn’t blown out. Paul was the clear cut best PG in the league last season. You can make an argument Derrick Rose is better at basketball or more effective whatever, but you cannot logically make the argument that he controlled the pace, and kept his team in more games then any PG in the league. You can look at how bad the Hornets were without Paul last season. Sh*t I’m not even debating this tonight, It’s clear to to anyone who actually pays attention.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    And raw stats is how you judge guys? You don’t even know who they are.

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    ^
    Think he meant Darren Collison.
    However, CP3 all day..

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    Darren collison is who im talking about, and cp3 is still overrated. Dude has to win, get past the past the second round but for now he does not deserve to be mentioned as the best anything as far as I’m concerned. He is like the t-mac of pg, great player but show me you can win.

  • roc

    I love Paul’s game but I would agree with Slick Ric. Cp3 had a great series against a Lakers team that struggled mightily against point guards as evidenced by Jj barea looking like Pistol Pete against the Lakers in the conference semifinals. Bills a couple years back completely dominated Paul in the nuggets vs hornets series, with the hornets losing by 50 plus in one game. If I picked a pg to win a series right now based on recent history it would have to be Rose, Cp3 and then everyone else

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    I know who your talking about. Doesn’t change the fact that you don’t watch enough to call anyone overrated. That is obvious.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    How is that obvious, tell me something that I said that would indicate me not watching games. GTFOH with the bs, to be the best you have to win more than this guys does. Wilt is probably the greatest ever but he did not win enough despite all the pretty stats he put up, whether they be advanced or raw stats.

  • Ivo.L

    i think the Celtics need Westbrook and the Thunder needs Rondo
    why?

    well the Celtics will need a scoring Guard like Westbrook, because of Ray Allen and Pierce age, and in my opinion Durant really needs Rondo better passer and better defender… Ibaka, Perkins, Durant, Harden, Rondo and with the rest of the players like Collison, Maynor and Sefolosha not bad both teams win LOL

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