The Los Angeles Lakers have struggled mightily this season. Coming out of the All-Star break, they are 27-31 and in ninth place in the Western Conference. The player held most responsible for the Lakers' struggles this season has been Russell Westbrook. But as Stan Van Gundy points out, that criticism might not be justified.
Russell Westbrook is having the season the Lakers should have expected. His FG% is exactly his career average and his Effective FG% is a little higher than average while his 3% is down a little. His turnovers are his lowest in 8 years and he is still averaging 18.3/7.8/7.5.
— Stan Van Gundy (@realStanVG) February 22, 2022
Van Gundy brings statistics to an opinion party. Westbrook is actually averaging less turnovers this season than any over the last eight years. His field goal percentage is right where his career numbers lie. His effective field goal percentage is up slightly while his three-point shooting is down a tad.
Essentially, the Lakers and their fans are getting what they should have been expecting. In August, the Lakers traded away Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the draft rights to Isaiah Jackson for Westbrook. The future Hall of Fame point guard is averaging better than 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists per game.
Yet, Westbrook has been the poster child of Los Angeles' failures this season. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has benched Westbrook numerous occasions, particularly in crunch time.
But the writing has been on the wall for years. Westbrook is a high-intensity, aggressive player who has many faults to his game. He plays at 100 miles per hour at all times. He is also used to having the ball in his hands the majority of the time. Los Angeles general manager Rob Pelinka and LeBron James should have seen this coming. It was not the ideal fit.
James has had his most success throughout his career when he is surrounded with shooters. That's what they shipped away for Westbrook. That's not on Russ, as Van Gundy reminds everyone.