Russell Westbrook is one of the most polarizing player in the NBA. On one hand, he puts up monstrous stats becoming an all-time leader in triple doubles in NBA history. On the flip side it can be argued that he hasn’t made any noise in the playoffs and has always been controversial in the clutch moments.
This season, the Lakers were met with high expectations as well as criticisms making a trade to acquire Russell Westbrook in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a 2021 1st round pick.
Expectations and Criticisms
With the trade the Lakers have affirmed their intentions of making a championship run. Of course it was expected that with Anthony Davis out for his ankle injury, Russell Westbrook would ease LeBron’s workload. Also, Westbrook’s energy on the court would bolster the offence and make fast pace plays in the transition.
However, it also did not take away the fact that Russell’s lack of defensive presence would apply pressure on them when teams make their plays. It turned out to be true as the Lakers are now 14th in terms of Defensive Ratings and 24th in opponents points per game compared to 1st and 2nd respectively in their previous season.
Not only that, as a matter of fact the Lakers offensive rating just improved from 25th to 24th which is a huge knock. Plus, the volume of turnovers Westbrook is making just adds more fuel to the fire despite him recording triple doubles. It shows that trading for him has been a grave error for the organization.
Russell Westbrook’s statement
After the game with the Mavericks, Russell Westbrook admitted in the postgame interview that he has not been helping the team enough and he has to work on himself. “I gotta be better overall. What I’m doing right now ain’t good enough.” he said following a 12 point game with only 5 off 17 shooting from the field.
The fact that Westbrook acknowledged his struggles in the press shows his awareness of the situation the team is in. Frank Vogel, the Lakers head coach noted that Russell had 0 turnovers in the match which can be taken as a positive.
It should be noted that there are other factors as well that are the reason for the Lakers underwhelming performance but the point being that Westbrook is not doing the work he has been assigned is the reason for the backlash that the superstar is receiving. The narrative will change as soon as Russell adjusts his game and adopts a playstyle which would lead the team to win a championship.