It seemed as though the constant dilemma for the L. A Lakers were the impossibility of Russell Westbrook. Even with Lebron James at the helm, the Lakers could never get over the spacing and financial issues that Westbrook seemed to be the cause of. Despite all the issues, it took the Lakers’ front office almost two years to get rid of Westbrook. But now he is gone and making an impact inside the Lakers stadium. Just not for the Lakers. After a series of deadline moves that saw Westbrook move to Utah before being bought out and signing with the Clippers, he is now back where he started but with a new uniform.
For Westbrook and the Lakers, it just never worked out. I’m not sure what Rob Pelinka saw when he brought another bad shooter into a lineup with AD and Lebron, but the fit was questionable from the beginning. That is why it seemed like only a matter of time until Russ was moved, especially when he was moved to the bench this season. Now it is almost a win-win situation as the Lakers brought back D’Angelo Russell who projects as a much better fit on the team, while Westbrook was able to test the market and find the team that was best fit to his style and goals. And it’s not hard to see why he landed on the Clippers. They have stars in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard who are good shooters and can space the floor, while also having a number of 3-D wings who can provide the floor spacing that is needed when playing with Westbrook. Westbrook also fills a hole because the Clippers never had a solid point guard to run the show. In the past, they have had to rely on Reggie Jackson or Paul George to be the main ball handler. Now, Westbrook can be the main ball handler and play to his strengths of driving and making plays for his teammates. He also has super-talented players around him, so it is to be expected that Westbrook can have his moments but his main job will be facilitating the offense for George and Leonard.
So far, the Westbrook experiment might already seem like a failed experiment as the Clippers have dropped three straight games after the All-Star Break. While these numbers might suggest one thing, we have to look past the record and into how Westbrook impacted the game.
This is a direct example of Westbrook’s new role as a floor general on the team. He can use his speed and attacking to open shots for his teammates, and with guys like Norman Powell and Paul George around him, they will take advantage of these shots. It might take a while for Westbrook to fully integrate into the team and find his role, but the potential is there for him to elevate this team’s ceiling. He can take over the offense when PG and Kawhi are on the bench but has also shown the ability to co-exist with the Clippers’ other stars. This is what makes them so dangerous, and if Westbrook keeps hitting timely buckets then the Clippers are serious title contenders.
Alright, I know Westbrook is never going to be a three-point shooter, but Clippers fans can dream right.
Top Image: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports