The Los Angeles Lakers host the L.A. Clippers on Wednesday night, which means Russell Westbrook will get to face his former team for the second time since being traded at last year’s deadline.
It’s no secret that the trade was necessary for both parties as the Lakers were able to add pieces that improved them from being the 13th seed to one of the final four teams remaining in the 2023 NBA playoffs while Westbrook was bought out by the Utah Jazz and signed with the Clippers, a team that he fits much better with.
Ahead of Wednesday night’s matchup, which will be the first of four regular season games between the two L.A. teams, Westbrook talked about playing against his former team, via Law Murray of The Athletic:
“I think it’s going to be good,” Westbrook told The Athletic of Wednesday’s game against his former team. “It’s another game, and we got to make sure that we understand it’s the battle of LA. We’ll go out and compete and play like we’ve been playing. If we do that, I’m not even worried about who is on the other side.”
When talked about why he has revived his career in a sense with the Clippers, Westbrook credited the organization and his teammates for allowing him to play his natural point guard positions, which he obviously didn’t feel was the case on the Lakers:
“Just playing my position, simple as that,” Westbrook said Tuesday when I asked him what about the Clippers has allowed him to bounce back on the court. “I’ve been a point guard since I’ve been in this league, and always will be. And I would say that I’m pretty good at that position, because I’ve been in the league and I’m grateful that coach trusts me to be able to run these guys. And I’m grateful that Paul and ‘Whi and everybody else around here allows me to be able to play my position and try to make the game easy for them.
“Honestly, it’s as simple as that for me and being able to do that since I’ve been here has made me most comfortable where I’m supposed to be.”
On a team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, it made sense why Westbrook didn’t have the ball in his hands playing point guard as much as he’s accustomed to. The fit was never a great one on the Lakers from the start even though they were all confident they could make it work, whereas Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are more used to playing off the ball, allowing Westbrook to run the point regularly.
Clippers complete trade for James Harden
The Clippers recently completed a blockbuster trade with the Philadelphia 76ers for James Harden, however, likely taking some point guard opportunities away from Westbrook.
Westbrook and Harden are close friends who have now been teammates three separate times now, but their time together on the Houston Rockets showed that the fit wasn’t great, so it will be interesting to see how and if they can make it work in their hometown of L.A. on the Clippers.
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