Russell Westbrook has done some very good things — scratch that — great things during his 13-year NBA career. From league MVP, to nine-time All-Star, to averaging a triple-double not once, not twice, but three times, the Long Beach native has a Hall of Fame-worthy resume.
However, how would that Hall of Fame resume translate were Westbrook to theoretically take his talents overseas? According to one former Boston Celtic, not very good.
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Dino Radja on Russell Westbrook: ‘No Chance That Happens’
Dino Radja would seemingly know a thing or two about what it takes to succeed overseas. Prior to his four-year stint with the Celtics from 1993-97, the Basketball Hall of Famer captured two FIBA European Championships as well as a FIBA European Champions Cup Final Four MVP.
Yet, his recent comments during an interview with a Nuggets fan group on YouTube have raised some eyebrows.
In the nearly hour-long discussion, Radja was asked how NBA players would translate to playing in Europe. The former big man noted that the differing playstyles would provoke a difficult adjustment for many, highlighting Westbrook as a prime example.
“To me, that [Russell] Westbrook guy … Bring him to Barcelona, CSKA, or Barcelona and tell him to be the European champion … That has no chance of happening,” Radja said, via Basketball Network.
While Westbrook may not be the most efficient basketball player on the planet, to say that the uber-athletic, ultra-competitive guard wouldn’t figure out a way to succeed overseas seems a tad asinine.
With that said, don’t expect Westbrook to fire back a response anytime soon. The 32-year-old is currently focused on heading a late-season playoff push for his Wizards. The two-time All-NBA first-team selection is currently averaging 21.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 10.2 assists per game and is fresh off an upset victory over the Utah Jazz where he dropped 35 points.
Radja on Giannis Antetokounmpo
Radja didn’t end there, calling upon another former NBA MVP to get his point across. Referencing a 2016 qualifying Olympic Tournament semifinal game between Croatia and Greece, Radja detailed how Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was contained.
“They don’t play defense in the NBA, and you come to Europe with five guys who know what they are doing. They close your penetration; they don’t let you rebound in the offense,” Radja said. “By chance, we played against Greece in the qualifications for the Olympic Games, and that was the tactic. Back then, Giannis was also a good player, he was not an MVP, but he was at the very top. Don’t let him penetrate, block him, and don’t let him receive the ball in the fastbreak. Everything else he gives, let him. He gave us four points.”
As Radja notes, Giannis had yet to reach his superstar potential at this point in his career. During 2016, Antetokounmpo hadn’t ever shot over 52.1% from the field, 27.2% from three, or averaged more than 8.8 rebounds per game in a single season. Since then, he’s earned back-to-back league MVPs and is currently in the midst of his second-consecutive 29.0-plus ppg scoring season.
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