Russell Westbrook is coming off one of his best seasons, having scored highs in rebounds and final in assists that were enough to lead the NBA and for the fourth time in five seasons, he averaged a double-double, which is usually defined as hitting double-digit numbers in points and balls. Rebounds and passes. Before Westbrook, it seemed almost impossible to average a triple-double once, much less than a multiple.
But those numbers weren’t pleasing enough to land him on the All-Star team final season, the first time the 32-year-old hasn’t been picked since 2014. It was in part because the Washington Wizards weren’t very pleasing. But The Wizards’ performance in the playoffs was hardly a flawless microcosm of the public debate about Westbrook’s legacy: Westbrook’s style of play certainly isn’t conducive to winning basketball, even with his flashy numbers.
And now Westbrook is with the Los Angeles Lakers, being traded for the third time in three years. Former MVP winners like Westbrook don’t usually play for four distinct teams in successive seasons while still setting numbers similar to their numbers when they won the honor.
Westbrook will once again have his co-stars, this time LeBron James and Anthony Davis, in what is unambiguously called a superteam. On paper, this unused iteration of stars assembled to chase a championship should easily compete with teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Current Champions, and Nets, both of which have their own three-stars.
This will probably be the best chance Westbrook has had to triumph a championship.
These Lakers team is better than the Oklahoma City Thunder team that helped Westbrook reach the 2012 finals alongside youngster Kevin Durant and James Harden, all three of whom outwitted James’s Miami Heat super team. The Lakers have more talent than the 2017-18 Thunder with Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, who pulled out in the first round of the playoffs. When Westbrook reunited with Harden—now a bona fide star—in Houston in 2019-20, the James Lakers handily dispatched them in the postseason second round. Needless to say, the current Lakers are better than the Wizards final season, even though Westbrook was playing with Bradley Beal, one of the league’s top scorers.
Westbrook didn’t lack the stars from his teammates, but he did lack the success that would come with their presence, and that could be an indictment for his style of play: distinguished scoring, destitute shooting, and an elite recovery undervalued in his favour. from shooting. Part of this is also an indictment of the rosters that Westbrook has played on. The 2017-18 Thunder team had the ill-fitting Anthony, who had trouble adjusting to a lesser role. In Houston, the Rockets traded outside center Clint Capella and opted to play little ball, which was of limited effectiveness. In Washington, the Wizards have dealt with injuries to key players, such as Roy Hatchimura and Thomas Bryant, who have been hampered by the coronavirus outbreak.
But if Westbrook can’t figure out how to triumph alongside James and Davis, who won a championship with some players the Lakers traded for Westbrook, it would be a blow to Westbrook’s legacy.
After Durant left Thunder in 2016, Westbrook became the focal point, and Thunder was eliminated from the playoffs in the first round for three successive years.
A big part of the problem with Westbrook is that he’s been an incompetent goalscorer for most of his career. His career real payout percentage – which is free throws and three throws – is 52.8 percent, while the league average is around 55 percent. It takes a lot of possessions to score as a result.
His defense was also in doubt.
This is where his joining of James and Davis leads to a marvelous, possibly cease, situation. Two of the players the Lakers swapped for Westbrook — Kyle Kuzma and Kentavius Caldwell Pope — were instrumental in defense with the floor spaced apart. This meant that they did not need the ball in their hands to feel their presence on the ground. Kuzma hit 36.1 percent from 3 final season, while Caldwell Bob had 41 percent. Westbrook’s career average of 3 is 30.5 percent. Useful data point for Westbrook: Kuzma shot just 31.6 percent of the 3 in a Lakers championship year.
Getting along with Westbrook, James, and Davis would be a daft experience. Westbrook needs the ball in his hands to be effective, while James usually runs his team’s attack. James’ best teams are loaded with bowlers to throw the ball when he drives paint. Davis is one of the most offensively skilled big men but, like Westbrook, is a consistent 3, with 31.2 percent of his career. Even James is a career shooter at 34.5 percent of the depths — on average, about 34.5 percent.
This means that the Lakers are supposed to start three players who aren’t the most reliable shooters in the NBA today, which relies heavily on effective attack generated by the spacing. The Lakers have a few counters with other additions: Kent Bazimore, Anthony and Wayne Ellington – all of them fired better than 40 percent from 3 final season.
Westbrook’s professional use rate – the number of times he uses property – is 32.51 percent, second only to Michael Jordan in NBA history. James is fifth at 31.55 percent. If Westbrook is using more possessions than James next season, something has gone terribly mistaken. For the Lakers to be at their best, Westbrook will have to take a back seat, and some players – think Allen Iverson – don’t cope well with that, because their skills and egos don’t allow them to.
Players steadily praised Westbrook as a teammate. But does he know he will have to watch the ball more than he used to? With The Wizards final season, according to league tracking numbers, Westbrook’s usage with Beal on the ground was about 26 percent, compared to 33.9 percent when Beal was closed. For Bell, his average was around 29.8% with Westbrook, and 38.2 with him. But The Wizards did not have a third player of Davis’ caliber.
Westbrook will come in useful if he plays to his strengths. He is a relentless slasher and because of his handling and penetration of the ball, he will create easier shots for James and Davis. It also pays for the express breakfast. The Lakers finished 21st final season, making them one of the slowest teams, while the Westbrook Wizards were the fastest. Westbrook plays each possession as if he’s trying to get former a lightning bolt, and that’s if he isn’t the alike as the bolt. This will aid the Lakers add a unused dimension to attack: Westbrook and James are among the best fastball players in the league.
It’s likely Westbrook’s days when the average triplet was behind him. Davis and James are distinguished rebounders and playmakers, leaving less Westbrook to put on his plate, at fewest statistically speaking. But Westbrook’s addition to the Lakers, as well as the addition of Dwight Howard and Anthony, makes this one of the list’s most inspiring facilities of the former decade.
But if Westbrook can’t handle the latest batch of his teammates, the Lakers could end up in an inconvenient mess that is a must-watch.