There are few players in the NBA that jump higher on their shot than Russell Westbrook, and on Wednesday we saw one of the possible benefits of that extra high jumper when he decided, mid-shot, he didn’t want to shoot anymore and had time to just rifle the ball off of Kevin Huerter’s chest to get the ball back and keep the possession alive.
It’s a hysterical play and something that only Russ would do. Why he decided not to shoot it is anyone’s guess, as Huerter’s not even contesting him on the shot (because, well, why would you contest a Westbrook three late). Even with Huerter just standing on the ground, he’s still not expecting to have the ball chucked at him and it works out to get Russ the ball back and continue the possession to the confusion of everyone — including the camera operator, who pans out for the shot before having to scramble back as the ball bounds off Huerter.
We see this kind of thing happen fairly regularly with a player trying to save the ball from going out of bounds by launching it off a defender, but this may be the first time that’s been used to abort a shot attempt.