The Los Angeles Lakers once again managed to shake up the NBA landscape with their blockbuster acquisition of Russell Westbrook.
Not only does Westbrook’s arrival beef up the star power for the Purple and Gold, but he also fills a major void when it comes to being a facilitator. After all, he managed to lead the league in assists three times out of the last four years.
Of course, this has led to plenty of speculation regarding how the starting rotation plans to run the offense around two ball-dominant players in Westbrook and LeBron James. Fortunately, it appears there is little concern about finding a way to make it work in L.A.
Westbrook credited James with being one of the best in NBA history and is looking to do whatever he can to make his job easier on the court.
“As you know, LeBron is one of the best players to play this game and his ability to be able to do everything on the floor allows me to just figure it out. I’m coming to a championship-caliber team and my job is to make sure that I’m able to make his game easy for him. I’ll find ways to do that throughout the game.
“As it pertains to ballhandling and all that, it really doesn’t matter. There’s many different ways you can impact the game without having the ball in your hands. I’ve been able to do that for many years. I will figure it out.”
Westbrook’s comments are music to the ears of fans that may be wondering how this experiment will work moving forward.
The approach is certainly understandable considering the Lakers already have a blueprint for success in the James and Davis duo. They managed to secure the franchise’s 17th title during unprecedented circumstances in 2020.
Westbrook is clearly excited to do his part in order to help kick things up a notch following a disappointing year from the Purple and Gold that saw them get knocked out of the first round of their title defense.
Although the former MVP is willing to take on a different role than he has played in years past, it will no doubt be a process of finding a way to best utilize his skillset alongside James and Davis. It is safe to say that this team will experience its fair share of growing pains early on.
Pelinka believes Westbrook is still elite
There is no question that Westbrook has moved around quite a bit lately after joining his third team in as many years. This has played a factor in criticisms regarding his play style and status as a top-tier point guard.
However, he still has some prime years left ahead and is not too far removed from a historic stretch that made him the NBA’s all-time triple-double king. Not only that, Rob Pelinka feels that the edge he brings from a competitive standpoint still makes him one of the elite players in the NBA.
“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.
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