When the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Russell Westbrook, the move was heavily criticized as many people didn’t think another ball-handler and non-shooter was a good fit with LeBron James.
And through Westbrook and James’ first season as teammates, those people were proven right as the Lakers struggled and missed the playoffs in 2021-22. The Westbrook move appeared to be a disaster and the Lakers made several attempts to trade him this past summer.
But they ultimately decided to hang onto the point guard, believing new head coach Darvin Ham could find a way to make it work. To this point, he has found success in doing that as Westbrook has been moved to the bench and has found success as the Lakers’ sixth man.
Westbrook and James have even began building some chemistry together and that was evident on Friday night when they led L.A. to a blowout win over the Denver Nuggets without Anthony Davis in the second half.
When asked about their growing chemistry, James attributed it to being able to log more minutes with Westbrook after missing a lot of time due to injury in 2021-22.
“Just logged minutes. I stressed that a lot last year,” James said. “We just didn’t have enough time to log enough minutes and know exactly how we wanted to play, how we wanted to work off one another, and how we were going to be effective, so just a lot of logged minutes and being at the right place at the right time.”
Westbrook spoke on the same subject and he believes their ability to get out in transition has led to success for the duo.
“It just depends. I think Bron does a great job of running the floor and I find him on the break. I know he’s one of the best ever, once he gets a head of steam, there’s not much people can do with it and it’s my job to be able to find him and make the game easy for him and that’s what I try to do. He’s on the verge of breaking the scoring record and I just try to make the game easy for him so he doesn’t have to work extremely hard to score baskets.”
Even as they begin to age, James and Westbrook are two of the fastest and most explosive players in the open court, so it makes sense that they are finding success in transition. That starts on the defensive end though, so hopefully they can continue to play at a high level there to get easy buckets in transition.
Westbrook trade viewed as ‘increasingly unlikely’ by deadline
Westbrook’s play has been so strong as of late that the Lakers may not longer be shopping him on the trade market. The latest report states that a Westbrook trade is viewed as unlikely before the February trade deadline, although things can obviously change between now and then so it will be something worth monitoring.
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