Russell Westbrook Has Big Expectations For Lakers’ Pace And Athleticism
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The addition of Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster caught a lot of attention in the offseason. Fans and analysts began to disseminate what the move means for L.A. and how the 2017 NBA MVP can fit in next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Westbrook’s poor shooting record became one of the main talking points. Head coach Frank Vogel revealed recently he had even come up with a plan to minimize the guard’s weakness by encouraging him to embrace catch-and-shoot play more.

However, Westbrook’s athleticism and tempo can certainly serve as a source of excitement for the Lakers faithful. His aggressive drives toward the rim and dominance in the paint allowed the 32-year-old guard to morph into a triple-double machine — a title he officially secured by leapfrogging NBA legend Oscar Robertson as the all-time triple-double leader in May 2021.

And, Westbrook thinks the Lakers can make good use of his dynamism. “Our pace is going to be big for us with our size and athleticism,” he said. “We got to be able to use it for 48 minutes.”

Regardless of how the Lakers initiate their offense, Westbrook says that with James, Davis and himself on the team, L.A. is well-equipped to become a nightmare for defenses across the league — as long as they don’t botch the execution.

“Sometimes it was coming off makes, but every time it’s got to be something that we emphasize because when we’re coming downhill, myself, Bron, or even AD, it’s tough to be able to stop,” he said.

“We just got to make the right decision whether it’s scoring or finding the open guy, but when we get defenses on their heels, it’s difficult to be able to stop us.”

Although the Lakers’ Big 3 clearly lacked chemistry in the preseason, James, Westbrook and Davis all expressed confidence that it is only a matter of time until the All-Star trio unleashes its potential.

Austin Reaves: Big 3 “make the game really easy”

L.A.’s rookie wonderkid Austin Reaves received high praise for his all-around performance in the preseason. The 23-year-old guard made sure to give credit to James, Westbrook and Davis for his impressive form in the lead-up to the season opener on Oct. 19.

Reaves said that the Lakers’ Big 3 attracts so much attention from rival defenders it leads to plenty of open looks for the team’s shooters. James and Westbrook’s playmaking further allows their teammates to take advantage of the extra space they create, the rookie guard said.

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