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John Wall Versus Russell Westbrook Is EVERYTHING

Thunder (31-24) at Wizards (32-21)

February 13, 2017 at 8:00 PM
Verizon Center | Washington, DC
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic
Radio: 1500 AM


Last time they met was..

November 30, 2016- Chesapeake Energy Arena, OKC: Thunder 126, Wizards 115 (ot)
RECAP: Wizards Almost Come Back But Get Struck By Thunder


What to watch:

Hold your cereal. The Wizards will be in the national spotlight for the THIRD TIME THIS WEEK.

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If there’s anything that will testify to the relative greatness that has become the Washington Wizards here in 2017 it is the sheer increase in volume of national attention they’ve garnered just in the past 7 days. A team more widely known for constantly getting bumped from the national TV schedule, the Wizards tonight will be hosting their third game in front of a national television audience, featuring arguably the 1-2 point guard punch of the league, John Wall versus Russell Westbrook. Do it for the ratings, NBA!


Key Matchup:

Wall vs. Westbrook

wall wsstbrook

Let’s play a game of Guess That Quote:

“You gotta have energy. He gonna go full-speed the whole time, under control and post you up.”

This could easily be a quote about Russell Westbrook made by John Wall, or vice versa (hint: it was Wall on Westbrook), save for the ‘post up’ part since Wall doesn’t nearly do so as much as Westbrook does. Otherwise, it’s no question these two players match up against one another better than most point guards, and with both players undoubtedly enjoying career seasons, tonight’s duel between them has never been more intriguing and special. Three things about these two stick out when I think of their matchup:

John Wall is responsible for over 40% of the Wizards’ points while nearly half of the points the Thunder score on a nightly basis is created by Russell Westbrook. Both are top 5 percentages. They are unequivocally the most valuable players on their respective squads, to the extent that the mere purpose of life would be diminished, if their teams ever needed to function without them.

John Wall is a double-double connoisseur, totaling 33 on the season. That’s a top-10 figure. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook AVERAGES a triple-double. Both are great feats, but what separates Westbrook from Wall is that he’s just entirely more proactive, using his springiness and length to become a formidable rebounder.

Despite the rebounding contrast, it’s the similarities that dominate the Wall-Westbrook discourse.

Their physical frames are almost comparable, with Russ an inch shorter and about 20 pounds lighter than Wall.

Both are extreme manipulators of defense, creating a magnetic attraction to defenders, helping to free up their teammates for high percentage shots.

Both players are slashers, and love using their dicey strength to make a play at the rim, at any cost.

Both have complete disregard for their opponents. Wall is a surgeon. A general. Westbrook is a mad man. A freight train.

John Wall versus Russell Westbrook indeed EVERYTHING.

Enjoy a YouTube mixtape before reading on.


X-Factor:

Scott Brooks.

One major advantage for the Wizards tonight is Coach Brooks’ familiarity with his opponent tonight. Here are the players that played for Brooks in his last season in OKC:

Russell Westbrook
Steven Adams
Enes Kanter
Kyle Singler
Andre Roberson
Nick Collison

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Brooks’ history with Russell Westbrook could likely also be a factor in how both Wall and Westbrook perform. Even though they’ve already faced one another this season, who knows what’s going on in Russ’ mind when he walks on the court in front his old coach, the only one he ever knew for the first seven seasons of his NBA career. Could Brooks’ presence on the Wizards sideline perhaps put a chip on both players’ shoulders, as Westbrook looks to show Brooks what it’s like to miss him, while Wall tries to prove to Brooks he’s the best point guard he’s ever coached? Sounds like a good narrative to me. Let’s see how it plays out.

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