Russell Westbrook seems to be on his way out of OKC. When will that happen? We don’t know, but where he’ll land is the better question. One team who should pursue the All-Star and former MVP, is the Orlando Magic.
“There have been a lot of teams that aren’t in major markets that have acquired star players, and there are many different ways to acquire those guys these days. With that being said, that’s not where we are. Where we are is we need to build on what we established last year.”
The above is a quote from Orlando’s President of Basketball Operations, Jeff Weltman, while commenting on how he believes Orlando needs to build on what they did last year when they made the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 NBA season. While I like what Weltman had to say, I also believe his comments are wrong in one way or another.
How Weltman’s correct
Weltman’s comments are correct in the sense that Orlando needs to build on what they did last season. After making the playoffs for the first time in seven years, this team can’t afford to move backwards. Their goal should obviously be to move forward and get better.
Orlando got a good start to building on what they accomplished last season by re-signing two of their own free agents, Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross. Those two guys were perhaps the two biggest factors in this team making the playoffs last season. That’s a great start, but now it’s time for Orlando to make a move that really takes them to the next level.
How Weltman’s incorrect
I like that Jeff Weltman wants to build on what Orlando did last season, but I also don’t like a part of his comments noted above. The part I don’t like, is that Weltman said Orlando is not in a place to add a star player.
That’s ridiculous! It contradicts everything he said about wanting to take the next step.
Yes, Orlando made the playoffs last season, but how far did they go? They won their first game against the Toronto Raptors, but then lost four straight games to lose that series 4-1. Does he honestly think that simply re-signing two of their own guys and adding Al-Farouq Aminu to the mix will make them that much better?
While the moves they made in free agency were good for the team as a whole, I believe those moves keeps them right where they are. I don’t really see them building on anything with the moves they’ve made. Orlando will need to make a move bigger than signing their own guys and a role player in order to truly take the next step, and the perfect opportunity is sitting right in front of them.
Trade for Russell Westbrook
I find it hard to believe that a player like Russell Westbrook is hanging there for the taking, yet the Orlando Magic aren’t going to take that opportunity. This is even more shocking when you consider what’s been one of their biggest weaknesses over the last few years: the point guard position.
D.J. Augustin did a really nice job as the PG last season, but in no way is he an All-Star caliber player at the position. Augustin would be most effective coming off the bench as the backup.
Then there’s Markelle Fultz. It was just last season Orlando decided to trade for the troubled former No. 1 overall pick. The reason they traded for him is because they knew they needed to get better at the point guard position in order to take the next step. I hate to break it to Orlando, but if Fultz does end up being an All-Star caliber point guard, it’s going to take time. How long will that take? It’s anyone’s guess. It may not ever happen.
If Orlando knows they need to get better at the point guard spot, why not make a trade for the best available point guard out there?
How adding Westbrook would work
If Orlando made a trade for Westbrook and were able to keep Nikola Vucevic, which I believe they’d easily be able to do, they’d take care of their biggest position need and give themselves two All-Star caliber players. In today’s NBA, it takes more than one All-Star caliber player to win games.
A trade for Russell Westbrook would not only give Orlando two All-Stars, but it would give them one of the best players at his position in the entire league. Many people don’t like the way Westbrook plays, but I think he’d fit in perfectly with the players Orlando has.
Westbrook is one of the fastest and quickest players in the league. He thrives at driving into the lane to get buckets. Where he also excels, is creating shots for his teammates after driving into the lane. That’s perfect, because Orlando has an All-Star big man by the name of Nikola Vucevic who likes to hang out near the basket. With the ability to score around the basket both Westbrook and Vucevic have, they’d be tough to stop in the paint.
Their inside scoring ability would be great, but we can’t forget about the guys on the outside. Orlando ranked 13th in three-point percentage last season. That’s not great, but it’s in the top half of the league. With Westbrook and Vucevic as constant inside threats, it’d only open up more outside shots for their teammates. That would likely improve their three-point shooting.
Then there’s the defense. Orlando was one of the better defensive teams in the NBA last season, ranking 8th in defensive rating. While their defensive rating ranked top 10 in the league, their offense ranked 22nd. Russell Westbrook would help improve the Orlando Magic offense, but he’s also help them improve defensively.
Westbrook was part of a defense that ranked 4th in defensive rating a season ago. Paul George gets a lot of the credit for that, but Westbrook was a big part of it too. Westbrook would be surrounded by good defenders in Orlando, which would create a team who’d improve both offensively and defensively.
If Orlando wants to truly build on what they did last year, they have to make a trade for Westbrook. Would Westbrook make Orlando championship contenders? Probably not. Would he make them better than what they are now? Definitely. That’s exactly what Orlando is looking for.