Russell Westbrook’s first season with the Los Angeles Lakers has been a rollercoaster as the 2017 NBA MVP’s acclimatization has been repeatedly disrupted by things out of his control.
In the first month of the 2021-22 season, Westbrook played just next to LeBron James in six games with injuries sidelining the four-time NBA champion. Once the 33-year-old guard finally enjoyed more opportunities to figure out his partnership with James, a coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak hit the Lakers, leading to players sliding in and out of the rotation until the end of December.
Westbrook has averaged 20.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 4.4 turnovers per game in his last 20 games. Compared to the 18.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 8.6 assists, and 5.0 turnovers he registered in his first 17 appearances for the Lakers, the guard’s form seems to have improved as the season went on.
Westbrook himself said he keeps readjusting to make sure he can help L.A. on the floor to the best of his ability.
“I’m just trying to figure it out,” the guard said. “The game will tell you what to do, that’s what I believe in and that’s how I play.”
Westbrook named consistency and good health as the two things he wants to be able to offer the Lakers this season, reiterating what he usually preaches that improving as the season goes on is most important.
“Throughout the year I don’t want to be the person that’s up-and-down,” he said. “As the season prolongs, I like to just make sure that I’m still moving in the right direction so that I’m playing my best as the season goes along. Create some consistency, I want to be able to create that for my teammates so they know what they’re gonna get from me every night.
“And obviously staying healthy is more important, so I try to do that in the summertime leading into the season to allow myself to be able to create some longevity throughout the year going into the season.”
Westbrook happy to see Lakers players back and healthy after battles with COVID
Besides Rajon Rondo, who will likely move to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the coming days, no Laker remained in the NBA’s health and safety protocols ahead of the 139-106 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Prior to the New Year’s Eve victory over Portland, L.A. had had at least one player miss a game due to COVID-19 since the Dec. 15 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
After the Friday win, Westbrook said he was happy to see his teammates back.
“It’s big for us. We’ve had a lot of those guys out and it takes a toll on your team and we need everybody on our roster as you can see, and tonight was a good night to be able to get guys back into a little bit of a rhythm defensively, and it was good.”
And he added: “Not just that, but to see them healthy, that’s the most important part.
“Going through COVID, it’s bigger than basketball, your long-term, and short-term health. So just to see them healthy and feeling better is the most important part.”
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