The Trade Machine Test
Criticism often finds Russell Westbrook. Many people blame him for the Thunders struggles and I find myself often being one of those people. In my opinion he often plays for his stats rather than playing for the team or getting the ball to the best scorer in a generation. I also am in the camp of people who believe the Thunder would be better off to trade him and get value in return. I decided to put theory to the test via ESPNs Trade Machine. I was surprised how right I was. I'll separate the results into three categories, reasonably realistic trades, trades for other often criticized players, and trades for top caliber point guards.
Note- Trade Machine says this is how it decides the win loss results post trade: Projected records are based on the PER of the players in each team’s post-trade rotation. Taking into account the players traded and the ability of their replacements, it is possible for each team in a trade to have a better projected record, or for each team to have a worse one, or for one team to be better and another to be worse by a different number of games.
Reasonably Realistic Trades:
Orlando: Get Russell Westbrook
OKC: Get Arron Afflalo, Jason Maxiell, Andrew Nicholson
Result: Orlando -7 wins, OKC +4 wins
Analysis: I though Orlando would have to throw in a decent draft pick to make this trade viable, but trade machine disagrees. Afflalo is a great player, borderline all-star who can shoot and play D, but it is almost a straight up Afflalo Westbrook switch because Maxiell and Nicholson don’t do much of anything, especially if they played on a playoff team.
Utah: Get Russell Westbrook
OKC: Get Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward, Ian Clark, John Lucas 3rd
Result: Utah -8 wins, OKC +8 wins
Analysis: Clark and Lucas are thrown in to meet salary restrictions, trade is really for Kanter and Hayward (side note: I realize Haywards contract is up and this trade could not be done without a sign and trade). While it is a nice package for Westbrook, I am still shocked at the 16 win differential. Kanter is up and down and has been mostly down this season, while Hayward is likely at best a third option for a championship team.
Detroit: Get Russell Westbrook
OKC: Get Brandon Jennings, Greg Monroe
Result: Detroit -8 wins, OKC +8
Analysis: In my opinion this would be the best haul for OKC of the three presented so far. Jennings is selfish and can’t shoot, much like Westbrook. But Monroe is a great player and passer, although having defensive difficulties. (Monroe situation is like to Haywards.) But a 16 win differential is pretty big, especially for a guy who many consider a top 10-15 player in the league.
For Often Criticized Players:
Sac: Get Westbrook
OKC: Get Rudy Gay
Result: Sac -10 wins, OKC +7 wins
Analysis: A chemistry-killer in Gay carries a 17 win differential, even though he carries about a 7 points less in PER than Westbrook.
Detroit: Get Westbrook
OKC: Get Josh Smith
Result: Detroit -4 wins, OKC +2
Analysis: If this trade happened people would revolt against Sam Presti and the owner of OKC. Josh Smith is notorious for jacking up threes even though he doesn’t shoot 30 percent from beyond the arc. Kirk Goldsberry of Grantland wrote an article on January 10th saying Smith was the 5th worst shooter in the NBA this year (Link: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/courtvision-the-worst-shooters-so-far-2/). Yet, ESPNs TM still thinks OKC would be better off with Smith over Westbrook. Amazing. Also, Westbrooks PER is 10 points higher than Smiths. Yet, ESPNs TM still thinks OKC would be better off with Smith over Westbrook. Amazing.
New Orleans: Get Westbrook
OKC: Get Eric Gordon
Result: NO -2 wins, OKC +3 wins
Analysis: Again, we see Gordon, a player with 10 points less in PER to Westbrook, do good things in the win department for OKC. The two play similar positions, so the lineups would not change greatly for either team.
For Top Caliber Point Guards:
San Antonio: Get Westbrook
OKC: Get Tony Parker
Result: SA -3 wins, OKC +6 wins
Analysis: Parkers a great player so this is understandable. I think many would still pick Westbrook over Parker though.
Clippers: Get Westbrook, Andre Robertson
OKC: Get Chris Paul
Result: LAC -11 wins, OKC +12 wins
Analysis: Robertson was thrown in to meet salary cap restrictions and means nothing. This 23 win differential is the largest so far, which is not surprising considering its Chris Paul. Yet, if these two teams meet each other its clear who TM would prefer.
Golden State: Get Westbrook
OKC: Get Steph Curry, Festus Ezeli, Namanja Nedovic
Result: GS -11 wins, OKC +13 wins
Analysis: Ezeli and Nedovic haven’t played enough this year to register PER scores and are throw-ins to satisfy salary cap restriction. Curry beat out Paul with a 24 win differential. Both are a lot better than Westbrook apparently.
ESPN’s Trade Machine affirms my belief that OKC would be better off they traded Russell Westbrook for a few nice pieces. A few counter points, like in this exercise Westbrook’s new team doesn’t have time to change its personnel to better suit him and the fact that ESPN doesn’t know anything have some validity. But, when it comes to this Trade Machine Test, it is clear that Westbrook fails.
None of the links worked for some reason so youll have to do them yourself if you wanna see