Let's not leave room for doubt. It wasn't a terrible decision
because he missed; it was a terrible decision and he
Here it is, in all its glory — in addition to Patrick Beverley's
flop that was eventually overturned.
Anytime your broadcast team hits you with a "Noooooo," you've
probably messed up something serious. Just
ask Denzel Valentine.
First and foremost, the concept of a 2-for-1— with the goal
being to garner an extra (late) possession — only makes sense when
your team is tied or losing. You're virtually guaranteed to get an
extra possession otherwise because the opposing team is gunning to
tie or take the lead from you. If they miss, they'll either be
defending a last shot from you or playing the foul game.
That's just how it works.
On a related note, the shot Westbrook took literally hasn't been
seen in four years. Four years! This isn't a regular occurence, so
the push to frame it as one — even as an understandable sign of
support — flies in the face of logic and evidence.
It's important to note the specific "up by one possession"
wording here. That expands it to leading teams who were up by 2 or
3 points. The fact that this was a 1-point game makes the
choice even worse.
The only way you can begin to defend the decision to take the
shot that early is if you're under the impression that the Portland
Trail Blazers would attempt to hold for the last shot
Down a singular point.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say the Blazers wouldn't have
done that, nor would any team with a semblance of common sense.
The math would be a little different if the game was tied, but
even there, it'd be fair to question who was taking
the 2-for-1 shot. And considering the 1-point lead, it's even more
reasonable to criticize the shot-taker here.
Westbrook was 4-for-14 from the floor to that point. On the
season, excluding that shot, he was 11-for-37 from the field
(29.7%), including a 20% clip on pull-up jumpers.
Somehow, there isn't consensus that this was a poor decision.
Lakers head coach Darvin Ham mostly defended the move, with the
only correction being offered (publicly) Westbrook attacking the
basket instead of taking the jumper.
Reporters asked LeBron James about shot selection, and then
late-game shot selection — obviously hinting at the Westbrook shot
— before LeBron shut it down.
It's admirable that Ham and LeBron had Westbrook's back. Based
on the level of vitriol Westbrook has received during his Laker
tenure — some that has extended to his own family —
it's understandable why neither party seemed willing to publicly
criticize the shot. If I had to guess, a discussion has been, or
will be, had during a film session soon.
Even with that caveat, there's a spectrum between blasting the
dude after the game and defending the move. LeBron taking the "I'm
not doing this with y'all" route was much better than Ham
essentially OK'ing the concept. Accountability was one of the
primary calling cards for the Ham hire; saying "I don't mind the
2-for-1 at all" simply isn't that.
With that said, the pull-up doesn't mean Westbrook is some
irredeemable player. LeBron's response shouldn't be taken to the
'nth degree. Ham's response doesn't mean he isn't or won't be
equipped to navigate these types of situations moving forward. Even
within that game, there were multiple possessions afterwards for
the Lakers to pull out the win.
There's no need to call for heads, but we should be okay with
saying a bad thing was a bad thing.
Going for the 2-for-1, up a point, was a terrible decision.
And having a terrible shooter make that decision compounded