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Jeff Van Gundy explains how the Lakers should use Russell Westbrook


When the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Russell Westbrook via trade last summer, doubts were immediately cast on how the former MVP will fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. After all, both James and Westbrook are ball-dominant players. They need the ball in their hands at all times to maximize their talents. 

A quarter into the season, it seems that the hunch of fans and analysts was right on the money. While Westbrook is back to his old ways of stuffing the stat sheet, it hasn't produced as many victories as it should. Some have suggested that Westbrook must alter his play style to fit like a glove onto James and Davis.

However, commentator and former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy believes this is the wrong way to go about it. The responsibility does not lie on Westbrook alone. He believes head coach Frank Vogel should devise a way to fit Westbrook in without changing who he is as a player.

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“I don't think you're going to change somebody's strength at this age. His strengths will remain his strengths, his non-strengths will remain as non-strengths. I think what you want to do is maximize his strengths, try to minimize or hide the non-strengths. When James has the ball or James and Davis are in a pick-and-roll, what do you want Westbrook to do? Do you want him to spot up or attack? Do you want him to spot and shoot? Because he will be open.”

Jeff Van Gundy, Dan Patrick Show

Many have praised Westbrook for his intensity. This quality has enabled him to spike one over much taller foes and hype up the crowd. Unfortunately, the 33-year-old guard's ruthless aggression has worked against him as well. This season, Westbrook averages 4.7 turnovers per game which rank second behind Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden. In fact, since the '14/'15 season, Westbrook has finished among the top three in turnovers per game every year.

Van Gundy knows about Westbrook's penchant for giving up the ball. Instead of raging in anger like Purple and Gold devotees, Van Gundy sees something positive when Westbrook decides to put his foot on the gas pedal.

"When Westbrook commits, even though it leads to some turnovers, to attacking, on the second side when he's on the weak side, I think he creates some good things. I think they need that sort of thrust to the basket."

Jeff Van Gundy, Dan Patrick Show

Van Gundy makes it sound so simple, probably because it is. Vogel and his coaching staff must heed his advice if they aren't already implementing a similar approach. 

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