The comparisons between John Wall and Russell Westbrook often center around their speed. For instance, the annual NBA general manager survey released by NBA.com usually has one or the other voted fastest player in the entire league. They are each 6-foot-4, insanely athletic point guards and have played under head coach Scott Brooks.
On Friday night, the two superstars will square off once more as the Wizards host the Thunder at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. Each player is off to a solid statistical start this year, but both are aiming to lead their team out of a disappointing record to start this season.
This will be the 13th time Wall and Westbrook go against each other. So far, the matchup has been slanted in Westbrook's favor.
Through 12 meetings between them, Westbrook's Thunder are 10-2. Here is a look at their head-to-head numbers:
Westbrook: 26.2 ppg, 8.1 apg, 7.4 rpg, 1.4 spg, 0.2 bpg, 4.1 tpg, 44.7 FG%, 23.1 3PT%
Wall: 15.8 ppg, 10.2 apg, 4.5 rpg, 1.6 spg, 0.8 bpg, 3.3 tpg, 33.0 FG%, 29.2 3PT%
Though Wall has impressive assist and rebounding numbers, clearly Westbrook has outclassed him from a scoring perspective. Wall hasn't lived up to his career average for points (18.9) or his career field goal percentage (43.2).
Westbrook has that effect on his opponents. He is one of the most physically-demanding matchups on defense. He combines size, strength and speed with a relentless motor. Guarding him is naturally going to wear a player down and only leave so much energy for the offensive end.
Westbrook, of course, also played for years on teams that were much more talented than Wall's. He had Kevin Durant, an NBA MVP, and Serge Ibaka in his prime. Those Thunder, then coached by Brooks, made several deep playoff runs and reached the NBA Finals in 2012.
The Wizards have been a bit better against the Thunder since Durant left. Wall went 1-8 against Westbrook during the Durant days, but has gone 1-2 in the post-Durant era. One of those losses was last season and right before Wall went out with a knee injury.
Westbrook scored 46 points that night, on Jan. 25, as Wall could barely move laterally. It was clear that night there was something wrong with him.
Now healthy, Wall should have an opportunity to rebound from that matchup. Like any professional athlete, he sees showdowns like Friday's as measuring stick games. He will go up against a former MVP and one of the best at his position.
Wall likely knows his history against Westbrook. On Friday, he can change the narrative.
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