Lakers haters are dead wrong about Russell Westbrook’s bad fit in LA
Coming off a disappointing campaign in the 2020-21 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers pulled off a wild blockbuster trade during the 2021 NBA Draft as they sent Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavios Caldwell-Pope, and the 22nd pick in the draft for former NBA MVP and Los Angeles native Russell Westbrook.
The Los Angeles Lakers got what they want, their third star. Russell Westbrook is a nine-time All-Star who averaged 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, 11.7 assists for the Washington Wizards last season.
Acquiring Westbrook had a lot of people scratch their heads as the superstar is a ball-dominant guard who likes to take shots but ultimately misses them. People say that 3-point shooting is very essential in today’s NBA game and the Lakers were one of the worst 3-point shooting teams as they were at the bottom five in the NBA last season and Adding Westbrook who is a career 30.5% 3-point shooter doesn’t make any sense.
The Lakers were not the best 3-point shooting team when they won the 2020 NBA Championship as they just made 12.1 3’s per game, good for 11th place out of the 16 playoff teams.
So maybe the Westbrook experience will not be bad at all given the Lakers playstyle that eventually won them the chip. Russ will certainly fit with the Lakers given that he will be playing with one of the most versatile players the game has ever seen in LeBron James.
Here are some of the things why Russ and the Lakers are legitimate contenders for the NBA title next season.
Lakers pluses with Russ:
The Los Angeles Lakers relied heavily on LeBron James creating shots for himself and others last season. Whenever LeBron checks out for a breather, the offense clearly struggled. The Lakers hoped Dennis Schroder could fill the void as the 3rd option, sometimes he did, but most of the time he did not. He was very inconsistent.
As we have seen in recent years, Westbrook is a legitimate threat to score every time he touches the ball. The Lakers will no longer rely on LeBron James in every possession with Westbrook on the line-up,
Can push the tempo again
The Los Angeles Lakers ran around the court and were pushing the ball to the other end of the basket. That was one of their winning formulas when two seasons ago. The loss of athletic centers Dwight Howard and Javale McGee and the Addition of Marc Gasol, who is much slower and older, limited them to just setting a half-court offense.
Enter Russ, an energetic guard who is known to crash the boards. He is called Mr. Triple Double for a reason. Russ will certainly push the tempo after he rebounds the ball. Expect a lot of transition plays, alley-oop plays, and fast-break points for the Purple and Gold next season.
While James has a tendency to be deliberate bringing up the ball, he also is one of the best in the NBA at look-ahead passes: Davis and Westbrook figure to be good targets, or you can flip that if Westbrook grabs the rebound and James is the one sprinting up the court.
Russ playing with stars again
This is the first time that Westbrook will be playing with a big man like Anthony Davis. Imagine a Russ and Davis pick-and-roll, this would be very deadly as Westbrook is a relentless finisher in the paint who knows how to pass in the right moment.
Russ still averaged 11.7 assists last season whilst playing with unreliable players in Washington, well except for Bradley Beal who is a bonafide scorer and superstar. Imagine him playing next to LeBron and Davis who have all the tools to score on every Russ dime.
LeBron is also one of the best passers while posting up in the game. Now imagine Westbrook cutting to the rim and finishing off from a LeBron feed.
For now, all we can do is imagine how the big 3 can do some destruction to opposing teams.
If you think ego will be a problem here, don’t worry because it was also rumored, per CBS Sports, They talked about playing together and just doing everything they can to win. Davis and LeBron are also willing to alter their positions and playstyle for Russ.
Can alternate with LeBron to handle primary ball-handling duties
LeBron did almost all of the ball-handling duties last season for the Lakers with Rondo gone. and when LeBron got injured, the Lakers’ playmaking really suffered as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso, who are not natural point guards, sometimes assumed the ball-handling and playmaking duties from Schroder.
Russ will definitely relieve some of the ball-handling pressure from LeBron James, a luxury that they don’t have last year.
Will preserve LeBron for the playoffs
LeBron will be 37-years old come Playoff time next year. James has a lot of miles in his legs as he is the NBA’s career leader in minutes played in the playoffs with a whopping 11,035. The Lakers need their star fresh when the Playoffs starts. Westbrook would instantly be a boost for the team because LeBron can take it easy and do some DNPs during the season without sacrificing the team’s record.
Puts consistent pressure on the opponent’s defense with his aggressiveness on offense
Westbrook is a beast who drives to the rim like a madman. he also punishes the defense by drawing fouls whenever he drives to the rim. This trait will open up some teammates and result in plays being created whenever he gets double teams from the opposing team. Can you really leave LeBron or Davis wide open if this happens? I bet not as these are stars who are capable of scoring at their own will too.