The Los Angeles Lakers’ addition of Russell Westbrook was the biggest move any team made this offseason and one which has the team back among the championship favorites in the eyes of many heading into the season. With Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers have a trio of players to rival any in the league.
There are some questions about Westbrook’s fit in Los Angeles, particularly next to James, who is a ball-dominant player and primary playmaker, something that Westbrook has been throughout the majority of his career as well. Westbrook’s individual accomplishments are well known, and despite his reputation among some that he is a selfish player, he has led the NBA in assists in three of the past four seasons.
In order for the Lakers to be at their best, they will have to get the best out of Westbrook, and James believes it is up to the entire team to make sure Westbrook feels comfortable with his new team.
“As far as Russ, we need Russ to be Russ,” James said at Lakers Media Day. “We don’t need Russ to change for anybody, that’s why we got him. That’s our job to all help him feel comfortable in our system and he’s gonna be as dynamic as he’s always been. So I look forward to that.”
When Westbrook was told about James’ comments, he responded in kind, noting his appreciation for LeBron’s words and adding that his focus is on his teammates:
“You come to a new team and guys welcome you with open arms to me I just take it as I know I have a job and go out and compete, but alongside I’m going to make sure I take that and make sure I make those guys better,” Westbrook said.
“So my job is to uplift Bron, AD and make sure those guys are competing at the highest level. Making sure I make my teammates around me better.”
The Lakers have a lot of new players this season and ingratiating them is going to be a tough task. Obviously James and his playmaking go a long way towards helping that process, but Westbrook sounds focused on getting the best out of them as well, bringing constant energy to the building.
“That’s what I bring to the table,” Westbrook said of his energy. “That’s one of my things I take pride in making sure that each and every night I bring energy and effort and the speed and the pace. Alongside that, I’m going to make sure that I can continue to bring those guys along and help them along the way.”
Of course, James, Westbrook and Davis will lead the way, but if Westbrook can help elevate the likes of Talen Horton-Tucker, Carmelo Anthony, Kendrick Nunn and others, this team will be very difficult to deal with all season long.
Davis expects to start at center for Lakers
One player who stands to benefit from the presence of Westbrook is Davis. With Westbrook’s downhill style, he has been known to drop it off to his big men for easy buckets regularly and Davis assumes to be the primary beneficiary, especially with him now expecting to move into the center position.
“I’m not sure exactly what’s going to happen, me and Frank [Vogel] have talked about it a couple times and that’s the plan.
“Right now, nothing is set in stone, but we want to see what that looks like and I’m comfortable with that. Obviously, there will be times where Dwight [Howard] or [DeAndre Jordan] might get to start at center depending on games, but for the most part, I think the plan is to go with me playing center.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!