With LeBron James and Anthony Davis joining forces, the Los Angeles Lakers have a new look. The team is now stacked with young talent as they try to make a run at the NBA championship. Russell Westbrook has given the Lakers 23 reasons to be concerned about his fit with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but he will also give them 23 reasons to be excited for what’s ahead.
Russell Westbrook has given the Los Angeles Lakers 23 reasons to be concerned about his fit with LeBron James and Anthony Davis is a blog post that discusses how Russell Westbrook’s style of play may not mesh well with the Lakers.
The Los Angeles Lakers are relieved that the preseason is over. Los Angeles went 0-6 in preseason play, being outscored by an average of 15 points per game. Along with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, the 2016-17 MVP, is aiming to be the missing piece. However, early results have been underwhelming, especially in terms of ball security.
Russell Westbrook has had a lot of turnovers in his career
Russell Westbrook made his presence known in his debut half as a Laker with 6 turnovers and 1-6 shooting. LeBron James is 0-3 from three-point range. It’s a foretaste of what’s to come.
Because Westbrook is a ball-dominant point guard, turnovers will always be a component of his game. Throughout his career, the 32-year-old has averaged 4.1 turnovers, but he’s exceeded that mark in each of the past seven seasons. Russ’ turnovers are as worrisome as ever now that he’s on his fourth club in four years.
Westbrook recorded 23 turnovers in four of the six preseason games he played in, eight more than the next-highest player in the NBA (Collin Sexton). With 5.8 turnovers per game, the nine-time All-Star is throwing the ball away more than he is receiving assists (5.0) or rebounds (5.0). (5.5). He’s also had some dubious shot selection, averaging 9.5 points on 35% shooting in 25.2 minutes.
“[Russ] is making an effort. After Russ’ second preseason game against the Phoenix Suns, head coach Frank Vogel stated, “He’s working hard to distribute, to get his teammates involved, to play extra-pass basketball like we’re wanting him to.” “It’ll take some time to get used to a new group of colleagues and a new system.” “I’m not concerned.”
However, there is a silver lining to Westbrook’s mistakes. 15 of the 23 he had at the conclusion of the preseason came in his first two games. So far, his past two appearances have been considerably closer to his career average.
With LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Westbrook is an unusual match
The Lakers have seen Westbrook at his worst during the preseason. While it’s doubtful that he’ll keep playing like this when it matters most, his overall fit with LA is worth considering.
Kevin Durant, James Harden, and, most recently, Bradley Beal have all played with Westbrook in the past. However, he’s never been a team’s third option, a position that will likely take a lot of adjusting. What will Russ be now that James is the main playmaker and Davis is the go-to scorer down low?
He’s not going to be a spot-up guy. Despite leading the NBA with an average of 6.1 mid-range attempts last season, Westbrook is a below-average three-point shooter and an average mid-range shooter. He won’t be much of a cutter or finisher, though, since he’s worth is derived from his role as the main playmaker.
Despite obvious reasons to be pessimistic, LeBron stated he was unconcerned about Westbrook’s fit.
“We need Russ to be Russ,” James said emphatically. “We didn’t get Russ because we needed him to change for anybody.”
For the Los Angeles Lakers, Westbrook will be a game-changer
For better or worse, Westbrook, the two-time scoring champion, will be a key player for the Lakers this season.
The Lakers went all-in on Westbrook, sending Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and a first-round selection to the Washington Wizards instead of going after better fits like Damian Lillard and Buddy Hield. That commitment reaffirms LA’s confidence in Westbrook’s ability to help the team avoid an early postseason exit.
While Westbrook’s offensive fit is intriguing, he will also be expected to defend at a high level. Los Angeles lost a significant portion of their top-ranked defense from the 2019-20 season, including Alex Caruso, Kyle Kuzma, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Russ is known for his athleticism and tenacity, but his defense has been hit or miss over the years.
To Brodie’s credit, the Lakers now have one significant edge. Last season, LeBron and AD combined to miss 63 games, but Russ has been relatively healthy. Should any of LA’s major players go down, Westbrook is capable of keeping the club on track, something they lacked last season before dropping to the seventh seed.
This season, Westbrook is expected to be one of the most scrutinized NBA players. He has an opportunity to quiet the naysayers, but he must first improve his basketball skills and adapt his game for the sake of the Lakers.
Basketball-Reference provided all statistics.
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