The debate will go on for hopefully another 8-10 years. Who is better, Russell Westbrook or Stephen Curry?
Last season Curry came away with his second MVP while Westbrook was left wondering what more could he do for the 2nd straight season. But for those true fans we know it wasn’t for lack of effort. But still the naysayers will come out in droves with “if Westbrook was a real leader he would’ve found a way to lead his team and not succumb to that 3-1 hole they let Curry and the Warriors out of”. That collapse was not all on the shoulders of Westbrook, but a total team effort by the Thunder.
Curry has been in the league a total of 7 seasons and really began to make his mark in 2012 when he averaged 23 points, 7 assist and 3 turnovers per game. Westbrook has been in the league 8 years and he made his mark in 2010 when he averaged 22 points, 8 assist and 4 turnovers.
Both players are elite but who has the edge?
Some will give it to Curry on the strength that he is considered the best player in the NBA at the moment. His shooting range has reminded every one of– no one. We’ve never seen anything like this before. But I believe for the first time people are starting to see holes. It’s not his fault, that’s due to ESPN and their very biased rankings. There was an article done where Curry was ranked as the 4th best PG of All Time, ahead of Chris Paul, Isiah Thomas and Gary Payton. Not saying that Curry doesn’t have the skills to be on the list but, we are just stating how short of an attention span the writers at ESPN have as they put Curry on the list due to his breakout campaign the last two seasons. Rightfully so, but top 10 of All Time is one hell of a stretch.
Westbrook has been called selfish to arrogant but all he has done is produce, much like Curry but without the fan fare. To be honest, why wasn’t Westbrook included on the list right below Curry? Was it because he doesn’t have a ring? Well Stockton doesn’t have one but when you are one of the All Time leaders in assist you can get away with that. Westbrook is they guy that you pick first when playing pick up ball. He is fearless and will do whatever it takes to come out on top.
Enough of my opinions let’s throw some numbers out there and see what sticks.
Curry: (79 games played) 30 points, 7 assist, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, 91% free throws (5 pg), 50% field goal, 45% 3 point (11 pg), 34 minutes per game. Triple doubles (2), Double doubles (14) and games with 10+ assist (11)
Westbrook: (80 games played) 24 points, 10 assist, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 4 turnovers, 81% free throws (7 pg), 45% field goal, 30% 3 point (4 pg), 34 minutes per game. Triple doubles (18), Double doubles (51) and games with 10+ (47)
If you look into the stats, which turned out to be a MVP year for Curry you will see that the award could’ve went to Westbrook. Yes, the Warriors had a better record but they also had a healthy team where the weight was divided while the Westbrook had to deal with a few Durant injuries here and there.
When I look at PGs I look at the total package. While Curry is the new IT man in the NBA he still lacks those certain qualities that the REAL top 10 PGs has. He can shoot and he has made some outrageous shots but not all goes in. Those long attempts that fans go crazy for, his teammates must hate when he misses because it can lead to an easy fast break the other way. As far as setting up teammates, he has decent numbers but they could be better if he was to attack the rim more and hit the sharp-shooting Thompson, Green and now Durant. His career average of assist is 7, but yet he is billed as the best in the game. He attempts only 4 free throws per, that tells me that he does not attack the rim enough. When the game is on the line he will likely pull up and try to knock down a perimeter shot in your face instead of looking for the open players or drawing a foul.
Westbrook has the qualities that Curry lacks but he can be a bit out of control at times. I can understand a pass going through the fingertips of a teammate but sometime Westbrook passes the ball hoping a player will be in that spot. The knock on Westbrook other than his turnovers was his willingness to shoot too much. Those doubters have quieted some but there are still people who think he has taken the spotlight from Durant. Westbrook averged 24 points, 10 assist (2nd), 8 rebounds, and 2 steals last season but yet all you hear is Curry, Curry, Curry. I get it, the Warriors were the defending champs and won 73 games while the Thunder were tying to play spoiler. But still, how can you say that Curry is a better PG when his short-comings are Westbrook’s strengths? The main one that sticks out to me is the free throw attempts. This is where Curry has to improve. Westbrook averaged 7 last season and Curry 4 . He attacks the rim with a passion and I guess that will also explain his assist total and his turnovers. A player that gets to the rim looking to pass will often make mistakes instead of a player that sits on the perimeter.
Curry is a good PG that plays like a SG. Westbrook is a PG who can do what a SG does.
If I had to choose between the two, it would be Russell Westbrook.