Russell Westbrook is enjoying perhaps his best form since joining the Los Angeles Lakers, thriving as the leader of the team’s second unit.
Westbrook started the first three games of the season, averaging 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists, and shooting a terrible 28.9% from the field and 8.3% for 3. The 34-year-old has been coming off the bench ever since and the guard’s form has skyrocketed.
Westbrook has been extremely efficient, making 42.7% of his shoots — and 35.9% of his 3-point attempts, a higher rate than he’s ever managed over a season. He’s averaging 16.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 0.9 steals.
The 2017 NBA MVP was one of the Lakers’ best players in the tough loss to the Indiana Pacers on Monday, putting up 24 points, four rebounds and six assists on 55.6% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. After the game, Westbrook said he simply tries to enjoy playing basketball.
“Just hooping,” he said. “That’s it. That’s all. Each and every night just try to have fun, embrace and enjoy the game.”
Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said Westbrook’s energy serves as an inspiration for his teammates. “I mean, it just, motivates the guys,” Ham said.
“The guys love to see Russ do well, you know, he’s a beloved teammate. And the biggest thing is, when one guy does have it going, we just can’t throw him the ball and relax, we have to continue to get into our spacing, we have to continue to move the ball, share the ball. And if the ball happens to find him once again, and he does what he does, and yeah, we’re comfortable with that, but we can’t be in a situation where we’re throwing the ball and everyone’s standing, and we’re dribbling out the clock, dribbling out the clock, now we’re waiting on someone to go one on one versus the world.
“And that’s tough. That’s a huge responsibility to have to score in those situations. So the thing we got to do is, again, maintain our pace and a half court, maintain our spacing and do things with a purpose and like I said, my coaches and I, we’ll go to work on this as we’ve always done with everything else and see if we can get better.”
Westbrook expected to sign with Heat if traded and bought out
Despite Westbrook’s high-quality performances, rumors still keep linking the guard to a Lakers exit. Unlike last summer, the guard has attracted interest from teams around the league following his impressive play in recent weeks.
The latest reports claim that if the Lakers ended up trading Westbrook and he gets bought out by the new team, the playmaker would most likely sign with the Miami Heat until the end of the season.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!