NBA Betting Odds: Impact of Russell Westbrook signing with Los Angeles Clippers

By Zachary Cohen  ( 

February 20, 2023 03:17 PM

On Monday, February 20, it was announced that Russell Westbrook would be signing with the Los Angeles Clippers after having finalized a contract buyout with the Utah Jazz. Westbrook, who is a nine-time NBA All-Star and was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2017, was traded to Utah as part of the three-team deal that sent D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to the Los Angeles Lakers, while the Minnesota Timberwolves landed Mike Conley Jr. and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

How Westbrook signing impacts Clippers title odds

In theory, adding a player with Westbrook’s pedigree should be a boost for any NBA franchise — especially one that is chasing a title. However, Westbrook’s on-court production no longer comes close to carrying the same weight as his name. In fact, even though the Clippers brought in a two-time All-NBA First Team point guard, the team’s championship odds didn’t move. DraftKings Sportsbook had Los Angeles at +900 to win the 2022-23 NBA title before the signing, and the team is still listed at +900 after news of the move trickled out.

Should you bet on the Clippers to win the NBA title? 

Westbrook’s season averages of 15.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.0 steals per game sound solid when you take them at face value. But the 34-year-old is shooting just 41.7 percent from the field, 29.6 percent from behind the three-point line and 65.5 percent from the charity stripe. Those are concerning numbers for a guard, and that’s especially true of one that will be playing alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. That Clippers duo is arguably the best wing tandem in the entire league, and opposing teams generally do everything they can to stop those two from beating them. With Westbrook’s inability to make open jumpers, it might be a little easier for opponents to defend Los Angeles. They'll simply dare him to take outside shots. 

There are also serious concerns over how Westbrook’s presence will impact the Clippers defensively. Los Angeles is currently 10th in the league in defensive rating this season, and head coach Tyronn Lue has always been able to trust in his team’s ability to dig in and get stops. But Westbrook has been a negative on the defensive end for each of the last five seasons, according to ESPN’s Overall Defensive RAPTOR metric. The former superstar has largely looked disinterested in playing his part in executing the defensive game plans of his previous head coaches. Instead, Westbrook has consistently displayed a tendency to roam around and hunt for steals, which often leaves his teammates scrambling. Off-ball defense is just as important as point-of-attack defense, and he constantly falls short in that regard.

If Westbrook doesn’t adapt and find a way to blend in with his new teammates, it isn’t hard to envision a scenario in which he has a negative impact on the Los Angeles locker room, much like he did for LeBron James and Co. The Clippers are gambling on his existing relationship with George setting the tone for this partnership, as the two had a great connection when they played together with the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.

The issue with this new marriage is that Westbrook’s lack of a jumper makes it hard to imagine him having a positive impact on the Clippers, even if he’s the consummate pro and does everything Lue asks of him. That should say everything you need to know about this 2023 version of Westbrook, especially when you factor in that Los Angeles can really use some help at the lead guard spot. 

It isn’t often that you get no reaction whatsoever from the oddsmakers when a massive name arrives in a new situation. But it makes all the sense in the world in this specific case. After all, the Lakers were pretty actively looking to get him off the roster — even with no guarantee of trading him for players that could help them immediately. The harsh truth is that this risk might actually derail the Clippers' pursuit of the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy. 

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