Confidence Running Out For Lakers’ Westbrook Experiment

Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA
NBA Analysis Network

The Los Angeles Lakers have limped through the start of the 2021-22 NBA season. They are currently 8-8 as they have dealt with numerous injuries and are trying to acclimate so many new faces to the team.

Los Angeles had only three players, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Talen Horton-Tucker, return to the team from last season’s team. Some patience was going to be needed so that the roster could build chemistry and cohesion.

That process has been slowed down considerably because of the injuries the team is enduring. LeBron James has played in only six games. Kendrick Nunn and Trevor Ariza have both been sidelined all season. Horton-Tucker just returned to the lineup last week.

The biggest adjustment being made is by Russell Westbrook. For the first time in his career, he is not the to-go option for the team. He is settling into a third option role behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis and it has been a bumpy road doing so.

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There were many naysayers when the Westbrook deal was announced as the fit looked to be awkward. Westbrook doesn’t fit the profile of a third option, as he succeeds when the ball is in his hands. All of those issues have been present thus far, as Westbrook isn’t a good spot-up shooter and is an inconsistent defender.

There have to be some worries that this isn’t going to work out as the organization had hoped it would. Westbrook has seen his scoring and assists go down this season, while his turnovers have reached astronomical levels. His struggles finishing at the basket are becoming an issue, as this is the worst he has done since his rookie season.

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The Los Angeles Lakers are also a better team when Russell Westbrook is out of the game than when he is on the court. They are nine points worse per 100 possessions when he plays as the team’s offense and defense both get better without him.

Getting healthy and building that chemistry will make things more palatable, but it is fair to question what heights this grouping will reach. Rob Pelinka and the front office may have miscalculated this one as it is getting tougher and tougher to imagine this team making much noise once the postseason rolls around.

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