Washington Wizards: 3 Players that need to step up with Ish Smith out

Washington Wizards Ish Smith. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Wizards Ish Smith. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports /
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Washington Wizards Russell Westbrook.
Washington Wizards Russell Westbrook. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

Russell Westbrook needs to step up for the Washington Wizards

Although the Wizards are down one point guard with Ish Smith sidelined, it looks like they’re finally getting the Russell Westbrook they traded for. After battling a quad injury of his own, Westbrook appears to be back to normal. During the four games without Smith, Westbrook has been great. In the win over the Portland Trail Blazers, Westbrook played his best basketball yet as a member of the Wizards. He finished with 27 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds, and he was efficient, making 11 of his 17 shots from the floor. He looks healthy, fully recovered from his early quad injury, and he is finally gaining some real chemistry with a new cast of characters. You can see it in plays like these with Bradley Beal.

However, there are still some problems. Westbrook is shooting 6.3 mid-range attempts per game (most in the NBA) but is only hitting 37.3 percent of them. That’s the lowest percentage among the top 20 players in mid-range frequency. Like he has been his whole career, Westbrook is best at the rim and is finishing on 64.6 percent of his shots from within the restricted area. But he’s only taking 4.1 of those per game. The Wizards need Westbrook to be smarter with his shot selection.

And he needs to be more careful. Westbrook currently leads the NBA in turnovers (5.1 per). You could blame his high turnover number on his fast pace and high usage rate – 31.2 percent. However, his turnover percent is still quite high (20.0) and ranks 9th overall. These are some of the worst marks of Westbrook’s career. He has never had a higher turnover percentage and has only averaged more turnovers per game once, which happens to be his 2016-17 MVP season.

Next. The Significance of Ish Smith's Injury. dark

The Wizards need more of the Westbrook we’ve seen recently. He’s proving that even in year 13, he’s still elite. And now, with the Wizards’ primary backup out for a considerable period of time, he can’t be anything less than that.