(Nicolas Batum) who had played the full 34 games of the series up to that point. In that lineup, Westbrook was the de facto point guard, tasked with running the offense and creating opportunities for his teammates.
For years, Westbrook has been one of the most dominant point guards in the NBA. With his explosive athleticism and relentless energy, he has consistently put up impressive stat lines, averaging a triple-double over multiple seasons. But critics have often questioned the value of his style of play, arguing that his high usage rate, turnovers, and inefficient shooting can hinder his team’s success.
However, in that crucial Game 3, Westbrook showed the importance of a point guard who can facilitate and make plays for his teammates. Despite being surrounded by an unfamiliar and depleted lineup, Westbrook orchestrated a 15-0 run to end the third quarter, turning a double-digit deficit into a tied game. He finished the game with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists, narrowly missing another triple-double.
The value of a point guard in today’s NBA goes beyond mere statistics. While scoring is undoubtedly important, a point guard’s ability to create opportunities for others and make their teammates better is equally, if not more, crucial. Assists, in particular, are a key metric to evaluate a point guard’s impact on the game. An assist represents not just a made basket, but also the ability to make the right pass at the right time, setting up a scoring opportunity for a teammate.
In the modern NBA, where offense is heavily reliant on three-point shooting and ball movement, having a point guard who can generate open looks for shooters is invaluable. The ability to find the open man and make accurate passes in traffic is a skill that only a few elite point guards possess. This ability not only ensures a steady flow of scoring opportunities but also helps create better spacing on the court, forcing defenses to make difficult choices between guarding the paint or contesting outside shooters.
Furthermore, a skilled point guard can be a calming presence on the court, settling their team and directing the flow of the game. They have a deep understanding of their teammates’ strengths and weaknesses, adjusting their playmaking accordingly. They can identify mismatches, exploit defensive lapses, and make split-second decisions that can swing the momentum of a game.
Looking back at Westbrook’s performance in Game 3, it becomes clear that his impact extended far beyond the box score. His ability to create scoring opportunities for his teammates allowed the Clippers to stay competitive in a game they ultimately lost. Without his playmaking, the Clippers’ offense would have struggled even more, lacking cohesion and fluidity.
The value of a point guard is not limited to one game or one series, though. Throughout the regular season and playoffs, a reliable and skilled point guard can be a stabilizing force for a team. They can alleviate pressure from the team’s primary scorer, create easy baskets in transition, and make critical plays in clutch moments.
In conclusion, the value of a point guard in today’s NBA cannot be understated. While scoring may grab the headlines, a point guard’s ability to facilitate, create for others, and make accurate passes is crucial for a team’s success. Assists, in particular, are a key measure of a point guard’s impact, representing their ability to set up scoring opportunities for their teammates. Game 3 of the 2023 Western Conference quarterfinals showcased the importance of a skilled point guard like Russell Westbrook, who despite facing adversity, was able to make plays and create scoring opportunities for his depleted team. From their playmaking abilities to their leadership on the court, point guards play a vital role in today’s NBA.