Last week I introduced a new five piece feature on FTS where I'm going to determine whether I would fake trade Kyrie Irving straight up for another league superstar. I opened it up for comments and the players I've chosen to write about are Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin. Today's player comes thanks to davidzavac.
Russell Westbrook's game is all about improvement. He came into the league hardly polished and was a highly criticized draft choice by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
His early years were plagued by awful shooting numbers and inefficiency. He was able to live off his world class athleticism but you could always tell things were going to blow up to some degree for him.
Jump to his fourth year and we're seeing a much more polished player. He's incredibly frustrating to watch at times because like Derrick Rose he holds onto the ball a bit too much. While Rose doesn't get slammed for this due his lack of having a better scoring option on his team, Westbrook consistently gets ripped for not bowing down to the Durantula for the last 5 minutes of every game.
Russell is hardly a player who threatens from beyond 18 feet but with his solid midrange game and freakish ability to score inside the paint and get to the line he is a terror to guard.
His PER in the past two seasons sits at 23.6 and 23.5 so he's getting close to his peak. For whatever reason his assists have plummeted this year so it's unclear if he can get back to being an above average distributor. And with so few people on the Thunder able to get their own baskets I'd like to see him get some of his bigs a few buckets.
At 23, Westbrook is certainly on his way to potentially 6-10 All-Star appearances so I'm very high on him.
Like Rose, he's a different type of new age point guard who isn't a great shooter or distributor but is able to dominate games with his athletic ability and strength. Westbrook's turnovers are his biggest downfall to me. Everyone on the Thunder is guilty of this essentially but Westbrook doesn't have the ability to limit his giveaways and isn't getting better in this department.
The Verdict: I would not trade Kyrie Irving today straight up for Russell Westbrook. With Irving being four years younger and really not playing much worse than Westbrook currently is it is easy to see that with just incremental development and progress he can easily become a better player than Westbrook.
At this point Westbrook is better. But taking a look at how much farther ahead Irving is as a rookie (Westbrook was 20 as a rookie) makes this one a fairly easy decision for me. Plus, with the Cavaliers in a building mode there's no reason to rush things and building a group around a still hungry Irving is a wonderful thought.
Even any non-Cavaliers fan would have to admit that Irving's rookie season has been off the charts and that he has significantly exceeded expectations.
These two players are very different on the court but I must credit how great of an impression Irving has left on me thus far when I give you my opinion of passing on this trade opportunity.
Would you make this 100% fake trade?
Please limit your discussion to this trade specifically and not jump into random three for one trades you want to make.
This shouldn't really have to be said but of course I do not at all want Kyrie Irving to be traded. I'm simply attempting to gauge for you how valuable of an asset he truly is.