As a former MVP and face of a franchise, moving from the starting lineup to the bench couldn’t have been an easy adjustment for Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook.
Darvin Ham pitched Westbrook on the idea so he can stagger his minutes with LeBron James and allow him to play more minutes with the ball in his hands running the offense.
Westbrook seemed unwilling to make the change at first, blaming his hamstring injury on coming off the bench in the preseason finale.
In the Lakers’ last two games though, Westbrook made the move and has thrived, helping lead L.A. to its first win on Sunday night against the Denver Nuggets with 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 31 minutes.
After the game, fellow Lakers star Anthony Davis had high praise for Westbrook and the sacrifices he has made.
“I just told him, honestly, before I walked in here. I said the way you’re playing and handling everything, it’s tremendous,” Davis said. “The way he played in Minnesota, the way he played tonight, is unbelievable. Like you said, to be a player of his caliber and ask to come off the bench, that’s truly a guy who’s doing whatever the team asks to get the win. Sacrificed his starting position for the betterment of the team.
“He’s flourished in that role, that’s all we can ask for. I told him just keep doing what you’re doing, everything you’re doing is unbelievable and the last two games he has been doing his thing. Proud of him, obviously it was a tough pill to swallow but he’s been locked in and accepting his role and that’s for all of our guys on the team. K. Nunn didn’t really play tonight but accepting his role of still cheering the team on, so a lot of guys are just accepting their roles.”
Westbrook has had a rough time since joining his hometown Lakers so it is good to see him finally settling into a role that fits him with the success hopefully to follow.
While Westbrook has typically been the subject of a lot of criticism during his time in L.A., the praise is now deservingly coming his way for making sacrifices for the betterment of the team. The hope is that Westbrook will continue to embrace the role moving forward and buy into what Ham is preaching. The season is only six games in and the Lakers have a lot of work to do, but they now seem to be trending in the right direction thanks to Westbrook’s strong play.
Westbrook takes joy in seeing teammates thrive
While a lot of the attention has been on Westbrook and his sacrifices the last two games, he actually flipped it to his teammates after the win over the Nuggets, talking about how he takes joy in seeing them thrive.
“I mean, I enjoy It. I embrace it. I mean, I really enjoy seeing others do well. It’s kind of something I live for in life in general. Not just in basketball but life. I would rather someone else do great because it just the joy that I get from seeing someone do well just lifts me up and keeps me going tonight to see all those guys knock down shots, make plays. You know, it’s great.”
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