NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook’s Decline in Recent Years

2016 NBA’s Most Valuable Player. 

2012 Olympic Gold medalist. 

Nine-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA All-Star MVP. 

All-time leader in triple doubles and a member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team.

Future NBA Hall of Famer Russell Westbrook. Photo provided by Flickr.

Russell Westbrook has had an illustrious career with many accolades. As of lately, Westbrook has become a target of criticism surrounding his play, ultimately leading to trade talks and possible shrinkage in his role for the upcoming season.

Westbrook going in for a rim-rattling slam. Photo provided by Flickr.

Westbrook began his professional career coming out of UCLA as the 4th pick in the 2008 draft. He was selected by the Seattle Supersonics, who were relocated and became the Oklahoma City Thunder. Westbrook led the league in triple-doubles and won his MVP.







Westbrook continued his regular season success until the 2022-2023 NBA Season. It was in the playoffs where Westbrook began to hear his loudest criticism. The average fan thought of him as a stat chaser. NBA General Managers and popular sports analysts like Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless adopted the same idea as the losing increased, nicknaming him “Westbrick” to describe his jumpshot.

Westbrook in 2011 handling the ball for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Photo provided by Wikimedia Commons.

The 2019-2020 season was the start of a scary trend for any NBA Player, filled with trades and injuries. Not only was Westbrook traded from OKC to the Houston Rockets, he also had to deal with injuries throughout the year. Despite having another good regular season and joining 2018 MVP and former teammate James Harden, they were beaten by LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in 5 games.

Westbrook and Harden walking out of the tunnel together during the 19-20 NBA season. Photo provided by Flickr.

In the next year, Westbrook joined Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards for the 2020-2021 season. Despite a poor start to the year, Westbrook and Beal were able to take the Wizards to the playoffs. He became the all-time triple double leader, gaining the title of “Mr. Triple Double,” but because of another early playoff exit, this only added to the stigma of him being a stat chaser who doesn’t care about winning.

Westbrook taking a jumper in his new threads. Photo provided by Wikimedia Commons.


As of the 2022 season Westbrook is a Los Angeles Laker, but despite being from California, he’s receiving his harshest criticism. Despite playing with all-star teammates LeBron and Anthony Davis, his career-worst numbers and play, along with the team’s bottom ranked defense, led to them missing the playoffs entirely in his first year in LA.


Westbrook now faces being traded for the fourth time in 5 years, and was even played off the bench in the Lakers final preseason game. He hasn’t come off of the bench since the beginning of his career in OKC. Only the upcoming 2022-2023 NBA season holds the answers for the career of the future Hall of Famer.