Russell Westbrook feels he's made a breakthrough with his quad injury

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Chase Hughes
·2 min read
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Westbrook feels he's made a breakthrough with his quad injury originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Though Russell Westbrook has put up some impressive volume numbers in previous games, including four triple-doubles, the version of him the Wizards got on Friday night was arguably the best they have seen thus far this season. From the beginning of the year, he has been dealing with a quad injury and it has, by his own admission, affected his ability to play his preferred brand of basketball. 

For the most part in his 10 games this year, he hasn't gotten to the rim as often as he previously did. But on Friday, he looked quicker and more assertive with the ball and the result was a season-high 26 points on 8-of-18 shooting and only three turnovers. He even made 3-of-5 from long range.

After the game, both he and head coach Scott Brooks said they could tell a difference.

"I just feel better. My body, my leg; everything’s feeling better. I will be fine," Westbrook said.

"The good thing is Russell is better. The last two games he’s played, he’s been able to attack," Brooks said. "He’s been able to get to the free throw line and make layups. That’s what he does and he wasn’t able to do that consistently early on."

Westbrook led the NBA in drives per game last season (20.8/g), but this year is averaging only 16.0 per game. Though that still ranks 10th in the league, it represents a noticeable drop-off. He is also scoring only 3.9 points per game on drives when last year he averaged 11.7 points.

If Westbrook isn't able to drive, then his shortcomings as an outside shooter become magnified. He also has a tendency to turn the ball over when he runs into traffic, which is happening often this year. He leads the NBA in turnovers, averaging 5.0 per game.

The Wizards had six games postponed recenty due to an outbreak of the coronavirus and, as Brooks has noted, the one silver lining was it gave Westbrook more time to heal without missing games, as he was already out due to his sore quad. He was also dealing with the effects of a dislocated ring finger on his shooting hand.

The finger has since recovered and now the quad appears to be getting much better as well. Perhaps soon the Wizards will have in Westbrook the player they thought they were trading for, the one who was an All-NBA selection last season.

Though the Wizards lost on Friday night, their fourth straight defeat, they saw Westbrook's progress as a good sign they can turn things around in the near future. 

"We’ve gotta put some wins together. That’s the most important thing right now is to try to win," Westbrook said.

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
Washington
--O 238.5
Denver
--U 238.5