Wall and Westbrook — the Instant Chatter Of A Singular NBA Swap

The Season & the Future Of Two NBA Franchises At Stake

Bumpy J
Bumpy J
Jan 4 · 5 min read
Bullets Forever

John Wall had 22 points and 8 assists his first game for the Houston Rockets. The Rockets got their first win. Fans in Washington D.C. were quick to say, see, I told you so.

Russell Westbrook has had four triple doubles for the Washington Wizards. They started 0–5 (they are now 2–5). At the end of games, he has rarely come through despite very good statistics.

Two of the league most talented players the last 10 years were swapped just a few weeks ago we all know now. In D.C., everyone is anxiously watching to see how it goes. In Houston, not so much.

This trade is about John Wall because Wall was loved in the city of Washington D.C. And so this trade will be all that matters in D.C. If the team doesn’t get better, Scotty Brooks will be fired.

Bradley Beal, their new star, will be traded for some draft picks, and Russell Westbrook will be left to fill up the seats of another team with no shot at all to win anything. He will the latest circus act to fill up basketball seats in D.C.

John Wall, in the meantime, was on front of Sports Illustrated and looks like he is ready for the challenge (Guess, he is too young to know about the curse, huh? Maybe that explains the protocol and missed games?)

But John Wall was the Wizards franchise for most of the last 10 years and he has been a presence in the community. He had his tough moments but he got the team consistently into the playoffs.

He also made the All Star Team several times, and played injured repeatedly. He even tried to push through the playoffs once with a broken hand.

Yet, in Washington D.C., a city that hasn’t had real success in the NBA in over 40 years, the question is: was this trade worth trading John Wall? John Wall, the overall #1 pick in the draft in 2011?

There are some things to consider about the trade though.

For one, the Washington Bullets/Wizards (Bullets always for me, my apologies) are considered a playoff team again (or they should be one). Russell Westbrook, even with his flaws, does not miss the playoffs. He wills his team to the second season.

Bradley Beal is an All Star as well, and Davis Bertans, who they just gave $80 million, is likely the best three point shooter in the league. That should be enough to stretch even the best teams most nights.

Westbrook is also a known quantity. He played last year at a high level. He put up great numbers yet again.

Clutch Points

John Wall, on the other hand, is on his way back from injury, a serious one — an Achilles tendon tear. Most basketball players of star quality make it back from the injury but it is usually 2–3 years before they are at their best.

Wall looked in his first game back but it does not look like his game changed much.

Washington did not have 2–3 years or another whole year to wait on Wall, so he was traded. Bradley Beal, their real star now, wants to win, and win now, otherwise, he’s ring chasing elsewhere.

I disagreed with the trade. Wall is younger and the evidence on an achilles injury is mixed. Most players make it back eventually if they are not too old. Older players who rely on speed have the most trouble. Wall is a veteran but when he got hurt, he was not old.

Westbrook kind of had this way in games against Wall, as did his team. This is worth mentioning but not such a big deal.


When you look at a comparison between the players overall, over the length of their careers, the numbers are much closer. Wall was one of the league best pure PGs during the last decade. Westbrook was solid too.

Land of Basketball

Both shoot the three point shot about the same and shoot from the field about the same. Wall upped his game in the playoffs where Westbrook stayed about at his career average.

It has been the complaint of both that they rely upon their speed and quickness and power too much as opposed to using their skills and mental talents.

Sportswriters are chiming in on the trade as it is one of the big watches during the season.

Here is Michael Shapiro of Sports Illustrated:

Kurt Helin, of NBC Sports, thinks it comes down to Wall’s injury actually, as he writes:

“That is the single biggest unknown in this entire trade. Wall hasn’t been on an NBA court since December of 2018 — almost two years — and has had a couple of major surgeries since then. Is Wall still an All-Star level player? Is he more like a good starter now? Has he slid to being backup-level? Nobody really knows…”

Jordan Greer, of the Sporting News, looked at the trade by looking closely at Westbrook, a player who has never been a closer, a clutch guy, and often plays out of control at the end of games:

One thing missing from the trade’s context is continuity. It counts. Washington looks scattered. Westbrook is trying to figure out how to play with a bunch of new guys. Wall would not have had to do that. He knew Beal, Rui, Bryant, and some of the others, as well.

At this point, this trade looks like the beginning of another low period of winning in Washington D.C. that began in the early 1980’s when they traded Rick Mahorn and Jeff Ruland’s knees gave out. It’s only five games but the season is short and the league is highly competitive.

The Bullets (Wizards never) became a circus not long afterwards and John Wall had the team pushing at the door of success. Right now, they are 0–5. DC fans are tuning out again.

So what, they are saying. What do we expect? It’s the Wizards (not the Bullets, by the way).

Clutch Points


Original reporting and curated sports data journalism.

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Bumpy J

Written by

Bumpy J

Numbers runner. Cigar smoker.


Original reporting and curated sports data journalism. Actively looking for additional writers.

Bumpy J

Written by

Bumpy J

Numbers runner. Cigar smoker.


Original reporting and curated sports data journalism. Actively looking for additional writers.

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