The biggest question coming into this season for the Los Angeles Lakers is how their grand offseason addition, Russell Westbrook, will fit in with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Ensuring that happens will fall on head coach Frank Vogel and he is looking forward to the challenge.
For all of his faults, one thing Westbrook absolutely brings to the table is his speed and aggression when attacking the basket. It only took one practice for Vogel and the rest of the Lakers coaching staff to really take notice of how different Westbrook’s speed looks up close and personal.
“Yeah, it’s noticeable how different the speed looks A. in front of you in practice in live and B. on your side [laughs]. It’s really exciting,” Vogel said following the Lakers’ first practice. “Yeah, I’m going to be honest, myself, our whole coaching staff, he’s just a blur out there with his open court speed and even half-court downhill speed is something that we’re all really excited about. His first practice, he was basically a paint to great factory. You know what I mean? He was just getting into paint and finding people either for lobs or for threes all practice long. And it’s something that was very encouraging.”
Westbrook’s ability to attack the paint stands to greatly benefit everyone on the team. The Lakers added a number of shooters, not to mention the great interior finishers on the roster as well. Westbrook regularly generating great shots for his teammates is exactly what the Lakers were hoping to get when they acquired him.
There are still some questions about his fit, however, but Vogel isn’t as concerned and doesn’t believe Westbrook will have to adjust his game too much. “Not really. I think everybody on the team has to play team basketball you know what I mean?” Vogel added. “And we’re going to try to tailor our offensive system in particular, to each of our players’ skillsets. But he’s got to play within our defensive schemes and fundamentals and assignments.
“Honestly, what we’re asking him to do is consistent with who he’s been the last few years and that’s attack in the open court and be that dynamic guy when he has the ball, but also, Bron and Russ together have to play off of each other. When the ball is outletted to Bron, Russ has got to fly, the balls outletted to Russ, Bron’s gonna fly. And that’s the best way to complement those guys, but it’s really about just getting up to speed with how with our culture, how we play and then being himself.”
The Lakers didn’t acquire Russell Westbrook so he can be someone else, they want him to be the dynamic player he has been throughout his career. Vogel did make sure to mention that Westbrook will have to play within the team’s defensive principles and that end of the floor is an area in which he hasn’t been as dominant as he once was.
That being said, Vogel is clearly ecstatic about what Westbrook is bringing to this team and seeing firsthand has only strengthened that feeling.
Westbrook unsure how long it’ll take to figure out Lakers system
Regardless of how excited everyone on the Lakers is about the upcoming season, Westbrook understands that this will be a process for the team to completely come together. But the point guard is focused on completing that final goal.
“I’m not sure. We’re taking it day by day figuring each other out. Figuring out what our dos and don’ts are. We’ll figure that out throughout the season. That’s what the season is for. We know we have one ultimate goal and that’s to win the championship and through that process, there’s going to be adversity. We’re just going to make sure that throughout it we stay connected and stay communicating with each other.”
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