Heading into the 2021 offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers made their top priority a dynamic playmaker who could take the pressure off of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. They found exactly that in Russell Westbrook, who can best be described as one of the most dynamic players in NBA history.
However, his game is not without flaws. He is a poor jump shooter, has turnover-prone tendencies and has been accused of trying to do too much when the game is on the line. All of this means that adding him to the James and Davis pairing comes with a significant adjustment period.
Westbrook’s first preseason game with the Lakers took place on Friday, and he struggled mightily. He scored just two points on 1-for-7 shooting, turning the ball over six times in 17 minutes.
Westbrook is one of the biggest competitors in the NBA, so to no surprise, put the blame on himself following the preseason loss.
“At least for me, it’s just taking care of the ball. Just was looking to pre-determine my passes and where they’re going. So the 27 turnovers started with myself, so that’s what I got from the first half.”
The more important takeaway is Westbrook admitting that playing with James and Davis is going to take some time to figure out, and it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. “We’re not going to figure it out right now. Everything is not going to be figured out in the next week or two, so got a long year. This is the preseason. First game for a lot of us since April-May or something like that. We’ll figure it out.”
Even still, in a game that did not go as anyone hoped or planned, Westbrook found some huge positives with playing next to James.
“Just the things he is able to do on the floor. Obviously, at his size and his pace really helps me out a lot just because of you having somebody next to you running the same speed and same force each time down the floor is beneficial to us, especially in transition.”
The good news is that the Lakers should have no issue making the playoffs. Westbrook is one of the most productive regular season players of all time, and Davis and James will provide plenty of relief to get them to a top seed in the Western Conference.
Even if things look ugly at times early in the season, they have all the time in the world to figure things out before the games truly start to matter.
Westbrook still figuring out defensive scheme
There is almost no one in the NBA better at understanding defense than Lakers head coach Frank Vogel. However, all of the new faces in 2021 make up his toughest defensive challenge yet. Westbrook is still in the early stages of trying to learn Vogel’s scheme.
“We’re still figuring that out. A lot of guys including myself are learning a new defense. So we got to trust in the things that we know and how to figure out and learn some of the nuances of our defense and we got some time to be able to figure that out.”
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