Can the LA Clippers survive without Russell Westbrook?

The LA Clippers are badly missing Russell Westbrook
The LA Clippers are badly missing Russell Westbrook / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

What a fascinating career it’s been for Russell Westbrook. 

This man reinvented the triple-double. As the leader of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Westbrook was putting up gaudy stat lines we hadn’t seen since The Archies were dominating the airwaves. 

Over time, people began to re-litigate Westbrook’s impact on winning. Sure, he’ll give you 30, 10, and 10. How much better does it make the team? It’s an interesting debate, but one thing is clear: 

The Los Angeles Clippers need him now. 

The LA Clippers are struggling without Russell Westbrook

The once-dominant Clippers are 5-5 since the All-Star break. Westbrook’s fractured hand is a major factor. Without him, the Clippers are floundering. 

Does the future Hall of Famer impact winning in 2023-24? The numbers think so. Per CleaningTheGlass, the Clippers are +39.3 when Westbrook shares the floor with Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Robert Covington and Ivica Zubac. That net rating was in the league’s 100th percentile over 107 possessions. 

Yes, Covington is gone. The point holds. If you put Daniel Theis or Amir Coffey in his place, they’ll function similarly. Westbrook is thriving when he replaces James Harden in the starting lineup. 

Granted, he hasn’t fared as well alongside Harden. Those lineups have underperformed. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. We saw Harden and Westbrook struggle to co-exist on the 2019-20 micro-ball Houston Rockets. 

So? Stagger the duo. That way, the Clippers can keep a dynamic playmaking guard on the floor at all times. Westbrook’s elite positional rebounding helps bolster an otherwise mediocre stat for the Clippers (48.1 rebounds per game, 20th in the NBA). 

If you're reading this, you surely have an opinion on Westbrook. Yes, his shooting limitations can hinder an offense. Sure, his aggression can be outright reckless.

Can you deny that he's one of the most singular talents in NBA history? Westbrook is approaching the end of his career, but he was garnering real Sixth Man of the Year consideration before suffering his hand fracture.

The Clippers need Westbrook back for the playoffs: 

He helps them win games.