It was a long offseason, but the Los Angeles Lakers are officially back in action and get to kick things off on NBA Opening Night against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis look healthy and ready to redeem themselves after last year, but all eyes will be on their new partner. Russell Westbrook will make his highly-anticipated debut in a Purple and Gold jersey and Staples Center will be electric once he steps out onto the court.
Westbrook’s homecoming will be an emotional affair and head coach Frank Vogel already has a plan to help him wade through it. “Yeah, just keep an eye on him,” Vogel said. “Obviously he’s seen it all, emotional games and big games and whatnot, and obviously he’s gonna want to just go out there and kill it right away. So if we need to take a timeout or get subs we’ll be ready to, but I don’t think you need to sit down and talk like that.”
James himself is no stranger to playing for his hometown team and discussed what it will mean for the guard to be back in Los Angeles.
“He’s well-equipped. He’s well aware. It will hit him tomorrow, though. No matter how much preparing you can do. You can never understand the gratifying moment when you actually run out of the tunnel being a Laker and I can only imagine how it feels to be actually from here, too.
“So to have his family and his friends here not just for like one night when he comes into town. They’ll be here for at least 41 games. … I’m extremely happy for him.”
Westbrook said he started to feel like a Laker earlier this month, and will soon get a chance to play for his favorite team growing up in a highly-anticipated matchup against Stephen Curry and the Warriors.
Frank Vogel’s expectations for Russell Westbrook defensively
Westbrook adds another rim finisher and playmaker to the Lakers, but defensively it remains to be seen how he will look. Vogel laid out out how Westbrook can be effective within the team’s schemes.
“Yeah, bring his athleticism and IQ to our schemes. Obviously we’re different than the way a lot of teams defense with our schemes so with Melo, with Russ, with Monk, with Nunn, with all these guys coming in, even DJ, there’s going to be an element of like still instinctually being sharp with executing our schemes, but we expect him to be greater in our schemes in terms of executing our scheme with the athleticism and the passion that he brings to the game. But that’s definitely gonna be just as important as well.”
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