'We're one team': Brooks backs Westbrook after another loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Wizards are 2-13 when Russell Westbrook has played this season and 4-3 without him.
Entering Wednesday’s loss against the Raptors, they were 9.6 points per 100 possessions worse with Westbrook on the floor than when he’s off, per Cleaning the Glass. That’s the worst mark on the team if you exclude Jordan Bell and Cassius Winston, who’ve played sparingly through the first 22 games of the season.
Westbrook is the most important player on the Wizards’ roster not named Bradley Beal, so it’s troubling to see numbers like that more than a quarter of the way through the year. When asked about the difference in his team’s performance with Westbrook on the floor vs. off, head coach Scott Brooks refused to separate his point guard from the group.
“We’re not two different teams,” Brooks said. “We’re one team and Russell doesn’t play on back-to-backs and that’s the way we are. We have to make an adjustment and you always have to do that when you have guys out. Hopefully we can get everybody and get in some consistent rhythm, but I don’t divide the team.”
Westbrook hasn’t played to his standard this season, posting his lowest scoring average and shooting percentage since his second year in the league. Granted, he’s played through a quad injury that’s clearly hindered his athleticism, but if he decides to play, the result, good or bad, still falls on his shoulders.
But to Brooks’ point, Westbrook can’t close out on every shooter the Wizards have been slow to get out to, make every shot or grab every rebound. There are plenty of areas in which this team has come up short, and according to Westbrook himself, one of them is consistent effort.
“It’s effort, simple as that,” Westbrook said Wednesday. “Sometimes, X’s and O’s don’t show everything, and you’ve gotta have some effort… It’s in spurts throughout the whole game.”
Ideally, Westbrook is able to play in back-to-backs moving forward, the Wizards can develop a rhythm and put some wins together. Until then, it’s on Brooks and the entire roster to figure it out with Westbrook on the floor, because the discrepancy is becoming too significant to ignore.
“We’re one team, and some nights we didn’t have Russell,” Brooks said. “Some nights we didn’t have other guys. We’re still one team and we still have to play well and play better.”
Tune into NBC Sports Washington at 6 p.m. Friday for full coverage of the Wizards’ next game against the New York Knicks.