Wizards

Wall for Westbrook? It's not crazy. But is it the right call?

Wizards

Before you get too worked up over this John Wall-Russell Westbrook trade rumor, take a deep breath. Just because teams have had a "discussion" doesn't mean anything will come of it. 

That being said, I can see why Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard would at least consider this idea, and this is coming from someone that's been very vocal about my complete dislike for Westbrook's game.

I'm emotionally torn on if this is a good idea, so let's work through this together. 

Where this began: On Tuesday, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported the Wizards and Rockets have had talks about swapping Wall for Westbrook. To note: Houston reportedly wants more for Westbrook, so the report is pretty preliminary. 

From a money standpoint, both contracts are almost identical, with both being owed around $132 million over the next three years if their 2022-23 player options are exercised (spoiler alert: they're getting over $47 million that year so both guys are definitely opting in). So that's a draw.

But from the basketball standpoint, Wall hasn't played a game since December 2018 and is coming off an Achilles injury, which is one of the worst injuries a basketball player can go through - no matter how much better medical technology is getting.

Westbrook on the other hand has been much healthier over his career, though he's had some knee surgeries, and at least if you're the Wizards in this case you have more of an idea of the player you're getting in 2020-21 if you trade for Westbrook.

 

If you keep Wall, you're betting on a player who hasn't seen game action in nearly two years - which is the only thing that tells the full story (no matter how good his workouts and scrimmages have looked.)

On the flip side, here's another thing you know you get when trading for Westbrook: One of the most inefficient players in the NBA. Over the last four years (the time he's spent without Kevin Durant), he's never finished lower than fourth in shot attempts per game, twice leading the NBA, all while barely shooting over 30 percent from three.

Of course, Wall was barely shooting 33 percent over that stretch from three, so again, it's close. 

What about turnovers? Wall has averaged four over his last four years, and Westbrook 4.8. Assists are nearly identical with Wall right at 10 and Westbrook 9.8

The key there is Wall is much more of a facilitator, with Westbrook averaging four more shots per game than Wall since 2016-17.

Okay, so let's think of this from a chemistry standpoint. Player personalities can't be measured with all these eye-glazing-over stats, but can we see Westbrook and Beal co-existing? Westbrook reportedly wants to be in his old role that he had in Oklahoma City, and well, this is Beal's team.

There's only so many shots to go around every game. 

Westbrook's last year playing with Durant saw him finish ninth in shots taken. He even finished second last season with James Harden on the same team. Beal, meanwhile, led the NBA in shots per game this past season - though much of that was out of necessity. Again, only so many shots. 

Wall and Beal have both been very public about their desire to make it work, at least for now, together in the Wizards' backcourt.

So after all that? Yes, Wall's health is a risk, but at least he and Beal know each other well and have a history of playing together. 

The report if accurate does show us - as Chase Hughes pointed out - that Sheppard is willing to at least consider taking risks, which is a much different mindset than we've seen in the past in the organization. But taking Westbrook for Wall might be the wrong one to start with.