The parallel between Russell Westbrook and Spencer Dinwiddie

Published August 20, 2021, 10:30 AMJon Carlos Rodriguez

The trajectory of Russell Westbrook and Spencer Dinwiddie’s careers has always been aligned. Will playing for new teams change that?

Russell Westbrook is a Los Angeles Laker. Spencer Dinwiddie is a Washington Wizard.

After encountering stormy weather, both point guards will be looking up to new skies in LA and in Washington, respectively, next season. That’s the simple premise.

Beneath that is an interesting polarity between two individuals whose respective twisting and spiraling journeys have taken them to new places. Somewhere better? We don’t know for sure. But these recent transfers, as with all big career moves, are something that will redefine their place in the league. 

First, the details.

It took five teams and one of the most complicated deals in NBA history for the Lakers and the Wizards to get their point guards. 

The Wizards got Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell from the Lakers; Aaron Holiday from the Indiana Pacers; and Dinwiddie from the Brooklyn Nets.

The Nets got two picks in 2024 and 2025. The San Antonio Spurs got Chandler Hutchinson from Washington, as well as a 2022 second-round pick. 

The Pacers, meanwhile, received Isaiah Jackson from the Lakers.

All that for the Lakers to get the best player in the deal: 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook has been on quite a tour the past three years. He was in Houston one minute then in Washington the next. He was alternating guitar solos with James Harden then all of a sudden was doing drum beats for Bradley Beal.

Next season, he’ll be part of a trio with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The last time Westbrook was in a trio of this caliber, he went to the finals. But that was almost a decade ago.

This time, Westbrook is an established brand that no longer needs to be shocking to be effective. He doesn’t need to be a triple-double monster to be accepted. With LeBron and AD being abled bodies with revenge on their minds, Westbrook gives them the unique intensity the Lakers need from opening day to Game 6 of the finals. He’ll go pedal to the metal that’ll allow LeBron and AD to cruise when they have to.

But we already know all that. What we don’t know is how healthy the Lakers will be as they go deep in the playoffs. Wear and tear will always be a cause for concern. Just ask Dinwiddie.

The undrafted star turned cult hero missed all but three games in his last season as a Brooklyn Net. 

In his five seasons in Brooklyn, Dinwiddie established himself as a dependable ball-handler and go-to clutch scorer. He never became the first option throughout a game, but somehow he almost always found a way to be the team’s closer in tight games. That’s equal part confidence and skill.

Before the Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving hit the city, Dinwiddie played a key role in making things interesting in Brooklyn.

If Westbrook was the headliner wherever he went, Dinwiddie was the indie act with the obscure hits. With Dinwiddie, what you get is a hard worker with the potential to shock. We’ve seen that before with Westbrook. From an individual standpoint, there can’t be any more shocking than four triple-double seasons.

With Westbrook, what you get is a challenge of fit. As a point guard, he’s at the center of it all. The moving pieces go where Russ goes. This makes his move to LA all the more hype-worthy. It’s not everyday you get a LeBron and an AD as your moving pieces.

Dinwiddie also faces a challenge of fit, but unlike Westbrook, he’s a point guard who may or may not thrive with the moving pieces. He’ll go where his teammates go. 

This is why his stay in Brooklyn, although with remarkable ups, didn’t resonate at the All-Star level. As a sixth man and at times the super sub when someone goes down with an injury, Dinwiddie more than willingly stepped up. This will no longer be the case in his bigger role in Washington.

Westbrook and Dinwiddie will be starting ball-handlers playing the same position, but with totally different ways of approaching them. 

The Lakers get the Hollywood point guard that could be the missing link in the run for another title—a more athletic Rajon Rondo with more buckets.

The Wizards get a lowkey star who might exactly be the backcourt partner that Bradley Beal needs — not the John Wall and Russ types.

The trajectory of Westbrook and Dinwiddie’s careers has always run parallel to each other, without a clear similarity nor identical arc. Except for now.

Now, they could be suiting up for teams they actually belong to.


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