Friday, March 31, 2023

5 Benefits LA Lakers gain from having Russell Westbrook as a 3rd star

The LA Lakers’ acquisition of Russell Westbrook has been met with criticism and skepticism, even though there are also many who support the move by the 2020 NBA champs.

Much of the criticism stems from Russell Westbrook’s lack of shooting (career 30.5 percent from 3-point range), which is an understandable concern for the LA Lakers. After all, they were 25th in the league in 3-pointers made last season and 21st in 3-point percentage.

But the 2017 MVP is determined to make his partnership with LeBron James and Anthony Davis work. So rather than look at the disadvantages of having Westbrook around, let’s look at what he does that will benefit the LA Lakers.

5. Russell Westbrook gives the LA Lakers another floor leader

Russell Westbrook #4 passes the ball in front of Danny Green #14.
Russell Westbrook #4 passes the ball in front of Danny Green #14.

The LA Lakers offense sometimes gets stagnant, even with LeBron James on the floor. With Russell Westbrook around, they have another player who can set up plays and keep the ball moving. He has led the league in assists in three of the last four seasons.

The only time that Brodie didn’t lead the league in assists was when James had his career-best assist number in 2019-20. Westbrook has an 8.5 assists-per-game average for his career and recorded a career-high 11.7 dimes a night last season.

With two of the top playmakers in the NBA in a purple and gold jersey, the LA Lakers should improve from their 15th place standing in assists (24.7) last season.

4. A consistent third scorer

Russell Westbrook #4 shoots in front of Domantas Sabonis #11.
Russell Westbrook #4 shoots in front of Domantas Sabonis #11.

One of the issues that plagued the LA Lakers last season was their inability to generate enough points on the board. Though the lengthy absences of James and Davis due to injuries severely affected the Lakers’ overall numbers last season, the lack of another scorer who could put up 18-to-20 points a night was one of their major issues.

The Lakers were fine defensively, but their offense needed a boost. Before Davis went down with a calf and an Achilles injury, LA had the league’s 10th best offense. For a title contender, being at the bottom rung of a top 10 list isn’t good. After Davis’ injury, they dropped to 15th in offensive rating. When James followed his fellow All-Star on the injury list, the Lakers’ offensive rating plummeted to 20th.

Russell Westbrook will give the offense a shot in the arm. He has a career average of 23.2 points a game with a high of 31.6 when he led the league in scoring for the second time in 2017.

Even without a consistent jump shot, Russell Westbrook finds ways to score and has a reliable jumper from the foul line.


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