Russell Westbrook does not want to play for the Houston Rockets anymore. And there’s no better place for the NBA’s “Bad Boy” than Detroit.
“Russell Westbrook does not need to be a Detroit Piston” is a headline Metro Detroiters have seen on various sports articles over the last several days. Some of those articles make excellent points for a few reasons.
Firstly, the Detroit Pistons are in the middle of a rebuild. And as part of the rebuild, shedding horrendous contracts is a goal. Several reports are floating that the Pistons are looking to trade Blake Griffin and shed his deal. One of those scenarios includes a potential trade between the Pistons and the Houston Rockets, where it would be a Westbrook for Griffin swap. However, Westbrook’s contract is longer and more massive than Griffin’s.
So a Russell Westbrook for Blake Griffin swap does not make sense in that regard.
Secondly, the Detroit Pistons need shooters. And while Westbrook is a skilled shot-creator (47% from the field last season), his 26% from beyond the arc is horrendous. Especially for a Pistons team looking to improve their spacing.
Lastly, there’s the LaMelo Ball factor. If the Detroit Pistons decide to trade up to a higher pick to draft Ball, is there a reason to swing another trade for Westbrook? After all, the point guard position would have Westbrook, Ball, Derrick Rose, and Jordan Bone. Somebody would have to go. And it doesn’t look like the Pistons are ready to deal Rose yet. Also, in the case of Bone, he’s shown promise when given playing time.
Everything mentioned above are a few reasons the Pistons should not trade for Westbrook.
Even knowing this information, I’d like to borrow one of Westbrook’s phrases and say, “Why not?”
Westbrook can be a part of restoring greatness to the Pistons’ identity.
If Detroit Pistons fans are looking for a Larry O’Brien trophy to be hoisted in the Motor City anytime soon, then it’s time to be realistic.
Real-life is not your career mode on NBA 2K. Franchises going from the bottom to the top overnight rarely (if ever) happens in the NBA. It is usually a “crawl before you walk” type of ordeal.
While the Pistons are indeed in a rebuild, new general manager Troy Weaver does not see it that way per se.
“This isn’t a rebuild — it’s a restoring. There’s been greatness here,” Weaver said during his introductory press conference. back in June this year. “The Motor City deserves a consistent winner back on the floor.”
So with that in mind, who better to restore greatness to the Pistons than Westbrook. The “Brodie” is all energy anytime he steps on the floor. Whether fans or pundits view him as a “true point guard” is irrelevant in this case here.
The Pistons currently have no identity.
Westbrook’s dedication to working hard, being a great teammate and locker room guy is universally known. With Detroit being a blue-collar, hard-working city, fans will gravitate to his character quickly. Heck, more than anything, he’ll bring those same fans to Little Caesars Arena.
At least when fans can return to games, that is.
Pistons fans embraced Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose after arriving in Detroit, simply because they continuously played hard, leaving nothing on the floor.
Westbrook never leaves anything on the floor.
When a team has Russell Westbrook, they get his full work ethic and dedication. It also doesn’t hurt that some memorable sound bites during press conferences come with it too. He brings instant creditability to Detroit.
Relationships matter in any industry. Russell Westbrook has several ties currently in the Detroit Pistons front office. That can go a long way if he lands in Detroit.
Before taking the Pistons’ general manager position, Troy Weaver was with Oklahoma City Thunder since 2008. That is also the same year that the Thunder drafted Russell Westbrook. And Weaver, who was the assistant general manager at the time, convinced the Thunder to draft Westbrook with the No.4 pick. Now my math isn’t the greatest, but their connection is over a decade.
In addition to Westbrook’s relationship with Weaver, he has one with Piston’s vice chairman Arn Tellem. Tellem was Westbrook’s former agent before taking the position with the Pistons. Tellem was also the former agent of Derrick Rose, and that relationship was a factor in him signing with the Pistons last season.
With reports of Westbrook wanting to land on a team where he can assume a floor-general role, having team officials knowing what he can bring to the table seems like it would be ideal for him.
The Pistons need a real offensive threat, and Westbrook still has a lot left in the tank in that department.
In 57 games last season with the Houston Rockets, Westbrook averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, seven assists, and 1.6 steals. Regardless of the contract, he’d become immediately the best player the Pistons have had in over a decade. As mentioned before, his three-point shooting is atrocious. One thing that has hurt the Pistons over the past several seasons is scoring. They did not have many players who could create a shot.
Derrick Rose did provide flashes of that last season, but he’s better suited to provide it coming off the bench with his injury history.
Westbrook is the king of getting to the rim and finishing. He’s also great at drawing fouls. Although his free-throw shooting percentage is on the decline, it’s not terrible. It began to take a dip while still with the Thunder. However, the decline began during a season after Kevin Durant left the Thunder for Golden State. Westbrook’s free-throw percentage was 74% and 66%, respectively, in his second and third season without Durant. One could surmise this is due to having a heavier workload. It rose back to 76% in his first season with Houston.
Whether the Detroit Pistons decide to trade for Russell Westbrook remains to be seen. There is no indication of talks between the Pistons and the Rockets. The thing is that there is an equal amount of positives and negatives for the trade to take place.