The Los Angeles Lakers took a swing in the offseason when they decided to trade for Russell Westbrook after a disappointing end to their 2020-21 season.
Although Westbrook is a talented player, the flaws in his game are easy to point out and can be glaring when watching games closely. On this Lakers roster, though, Westbrook is the clear third option behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis and will be playing a smaller role than he is normally accustomed to.
However, just because he will be asked to do less with Los Angeles does not take away the caliber of athlete he is and Rob Pelinka believes that his competitive nature already puts him into a special group of players.
“I think he is in an elite class of players in terms of his competitive nature,” Pelinka said. “One of the core qualities as we build a roster is seeking guys that have an ultra sense, a heightened sense of being competitive warriors on the court. Players that played with the ultimate sort of grit and grind and tenacity and Russell stands in an elite class in that category and that’s drawn us to him.
“And then, I would say the last thing that I’ve really seen in the growth in his game is early in our careers I think all of us when we’re young we see things a certain way. A lot of his triple-doubles early were done with force, but I think now his triple-doubles are done with force and with thoughtfulness and how he uses the pieces and the players he plays with as teammates. It makes the sum of its parts greater than each individual and I think he’s really learned how to think the game at a higher level, so those are some of the qualities that attracted us to this day.”
There is no question that Westbrook is one of the NBA’s most passionate and competitive players and those qualities are what have defined his career thus far. Despite his shortcomings as a perimeter shooter and defender, Westbrook offers things that are not quantifiable in a stat sheet and he deserves some appreciation for who he is as a person.
Dennis Schroder signs with Celtics
With Westbrook now with the Lakers, there was clearly no room for Dennis Schroder to re-sign. After a longer-than-expected free agency period, Schroder finally found his new team after he signed with the Boston Celtics.
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