A new NBA season is upon us, which means it's that time of year where certain websites release their top 100 player rankings and fans subsequently freak out about where their favorite players fall.
This time around, Wizards fans have a new face to worry about in these lists: Russell Westbrook. In ESPN's top 100 for the 2020-21 season, he and Bradley Beal find themselves in the top 40.
Russell Westbrook: 36
Westbrook falls 24 spots from last year to No. 36 despite making an All-NBA team last year, which is typically reserved for the top 15 players in the game. Now playing next to Beal instead of James Harden, Westbrook figures to get more opportunities to be a primary ball-handler.
However, he ranks below players like Rudy Gobert and Brandon Ingram heading into the new year.
"For the Wizards' new point guard, it has always been his health," ESPN's Royce Young wrote. "Westbrook's knees have been operated on each offseason for the last seven years; he's not the same athlete he once was. Westbrook was still an All-NBA player last season and, for all the analysis of his supposed decline, produced two of the best, most efficient months of his career before the season shut down."
Last season, Westbrook averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and seven assists while shooting a career-best 47.2% from the floor.
Bradley Beal: 22
Coming off a career year in which he averaged over 30 points per game for a Wizards team that finished just outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture last year, Beal takes a slight slide to No. 22 after being ranked 19th last year.
Beal has notably left off the All-NBA and All-Star team despite his incredibly impressive offensive numbers. His, and the Wizards' shortcomings on defense and in the standings were pointed to as the reasons why, though it's hard to imagine where last year's team would've been without Beal doing everything on the offensive end.
"Beal probably just had the best season in his career but was perturbed, and rightly so, when he wasn't recognized as an All-Star or All-NBA performer," ESPN's Brian Windhorst wrote.
Other notable inclusions to the top 100 list were former Wizard John Wall coming in at No. 81 after missing the last two years with an Achilles injury and Davis Bertans, the Wizards' sharpshooter who made his debut on this list at No. 61. Bertans had a career-year last season and cashed in on a five-year, $80 million contract with Washington.