Lakers News: Did NBA 2K Do Russell Westbrook Dirty This Year?

ESPN panelists advocate for “Russ Being Russ.”

NBA Today apparently didn’t watch a lot of Los Angeles Lakers or Minnesota Timberwolves basketball this season. Cassidy Hubbarth, Los Angeles Sparks power forward Chiney Ogwumike, Matt Barnes and Brian Windhorst spoke about what they felt was NBA 2K doing Russell Westbrook dirty with their latest player ranking for the embattled L.A. point guard. The latest edition of the video game, NBA 2K23, is out today.

View the original article to see embedded media.

Here’s the full segment:

Westbrook was awarded a “mere” 78 overall player rating, one notch below the 79 netted by new teammate (and Westbrook’s probable replacement as the team’s new starting point guard) Patrick Beverley. Cassidy Hubbarth called the move “petty,” which leads one to wonder: did Cassidy Hubbarth see the damage a healthy Russell Westbrook did to the Lakers on the floor last season?

Barnes, a 15-year pro who spent two seasons with the Kobe Bryant/Pau Gasol Lakers, noted that he hosted a 2K launch party recently and that Westbrook’s ranking was the most-discussed 2K23 factoid of the night. “I think, although Russ had an off-season last year, I think his ranking is too low,” Barnes opined. I think Pat Bev is right there… a 79 is a solid ranking, but Russ’s ranking is too low.” If 79 is solid, wouldn’t 78 also be solid? Beverley is an excellent defender and a good three-point shooter. Westbrook may be a better passer (at least, in the first 40 minutes of a game) and rebounder, stats that a video game would reward, but he is definitively not a “better” player than Beverley at this point in their respective careers.

“Russ, as much as you question his game and you point out his limitations, I do think he still performs,” Ogwumike contended on the segment. “He shows up, and he’ll get you at least 20 [points], and maybe 8 or so [assists? rebounds? unclear].” Of course, a lot of that production comes as a direct result of Westbrook ignoring or waving off wide-open teammates and forcing up low-percentage heaves in traffic. As the focal point of an offense, the 6’3″ UCLA product is now something of an inefficient detriment to his teammates’ success.


The decline of Westbrook happened fast. He was a fringe All-Star during his 2019-20 NBA season with James Harden’s Houston Rockets. But even that model of Westbrook is gone now. His deficiencies outweigh his strengths. Yes, he still puts up numbers (though even then those stats are declining), but he is probably going to be best-used in the future as a spark plug off the bench facing off against opponents’ second units, not as a starter. The national media’s perception of Westbrook remains stronger than what his actual night-in, night-out contributions should reflect. I’m not the first person to say this, but it’s a bit reminiscent of the steep fall of Allen Iverson, who bristled at the notion of coming off the bench until he was out of the league entirely. 

There’s still time for Russell Westbrook to avoid the same fate, if he’s open to doing that.

Read More 

Back to top button