Loud City Keeps Russell Westbrook going
Russell Westbrook’s game knows that there’s no place like home.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have an exceptionally invested fan-base. These fans have always supported the team through its various ups and downs since the team arrived in Oklahoma City in 2009.
In the stands sit fervent, eager individuals ready to stand behind the players for 48 regulation minutes. In Chesapeake Energy Arena, fans stand until the first shot is made by the home team – a very college basketball like tradition. College-like atmosphere is an apt description for the way the fans engage with the Thunder.
Losing one of the premier players in the league would hurt most any franchise – namely in the attendance department. For the Thunder however, “Loud City” remains relatively intact. Still in the top half of the league in attendance, the roar of the ‘Peake echoes as loud as ever.
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The cliché of the home crowd augmenting the play of the players is still used a fair amount. For some, there may be actual truth in that sentiment. A familiar bed, family, and the return to a normal routine all play a factor in on court performance. Not to mention the rigor of the schedule could keep teams away from the home floor for an extended period.
The seemingly impervious Russell Westbrook benefits quite a bit from being at home.
The Thunder schedule up to this point has been relatively even – 27 games at home compared to 28 played on the road. Westbrook himself (or most any player) would never admit to any deviation from the norm. Especially not from something as subjective as the arena he plays in. Yet, a slight look at his splits from this season gives a glimpse into how much of a difference home makes.
For a player that is averaging a triple double, it seems trivial to point out peculiarities in his game. Alas, there does seem to be a variation in venues.
For starters, known for attacking the paint with reckless abandon. Westbrook’s points come from the paint more often at home than in visiting arena: 35% compared to 30% respectively. As a result of this, his percentage of shot attempts that are 3-point attempts rises when on the road. Settling for more jumpshots from behind the arc doesn’t bode well for the Thunder’s offense as he shoots below 35% from that area. One could paint Westbrook’s faith in the home whistles as the culprit, but his free throw attempts equal out both visiting and at home.
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Westbrook makes 36% percent of his shots in the paint on the season. In the Chesapeake Energy arena he hits them at a 43% clip. Anywhere else and that number plummets to 30%.
The Thunder offense relies on Russell doing everything in his power to keep it going. If he has even one off quarter, the game can turn and the Thunder end up in a hole.
Correlative to that fact, Westbrook’s performances on the road (12-16 record) could offer some insight into the Thunder’s road record.
In the 27 games the Thunder have played at home Westbrook has a 114 offensive rating with a Plus 11 net rating. On the road he has a 106 offensive rating and is a minus- 2.1.
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Often Russell can be seen entering a zone where he becomes so engrossed in competition that he develops tunnel vision. This seems to happen quite a bit when he is the visitor. His assists drop by almost two on the road. Doubly, his already league leading usage percentage rises from 41% to 43% as the away team.
These numbers are all relative to the other four guys on the court and the opposition. The offense outside of Westbrook struggles mightily – evident of the offense cratering to a 96.9 rating with him off. The Thunder’s top defense in terms of rating is also much worse with him on the bench.
The team follows Westbrook wherever he goes – he’s the leader of the franchise. Both at home and on the road, Russell Westbrook gives maximum effort every night with his squad in tow.
However, maybe — just maybe – the Chesapeake Energy Arena and the fans that support him adds an extra boost to Westbrook.