Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook has once again had a rather forgettable start to the season. He shot 0-11 in 27 minutes against the L.A. Clippers last Thursday and 4-15 against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday. As each game passes, Westbrook is looking worst and is frankly only sabotaging the Lakers' season.
As the Ringer's Kevin O'Connor pointed out, through 3 games this season, Westbrook is only being contested by defenders 41.2% of the time, which is the lowest contest rate in NBA tracking data history.
Opponents are not respecting Westbrook, and rightfully so. His jumper has fallen off the cliff (was it even consistent in the first place?), and his best strength — which is to attack the rim — is no longer supported due to his lack of athleticism and burst at this point of his career.
Westbrook is in a dark place with the Lakers, as both parties don't want anything to do with each other. However, they both don't have a choice but to stick with each other until the Lakers finally find a fair trade package to send Westbrook away.
Magic Johnson's unsolicited advice for Westbrook
According to Magic Johnson, the least Westbrook can do is take accountability for his failures and stop trying to fight the media and the fans. Johnson reiterated that the only way the organization and fans can respect the 9-time All-Star is if he shows a little bit more self-awareness and actually translates that to his performance on the court.
"First, take accountability, that's No. 1. If I don't play well, say I don't play well," Johnson said in his appearance on the "Club Shay Shay" podcast. "Russell, we know championship basketball here. We know winning basketball. So listen, just come in, do your job and if you don't play well, accept that. But say it. And then come back and hopefully play better the next time. Then the fans will respect you for that…," Johnson added.
The past 3 games have been a cycle for Westbrook and the Lakers — he plays and shoots poorly, shows no sense of accountability in his post-game interviews, fights with the media and fans while the Lakers' front office continues to allow this to happen — rinse and repeat.
Johnson is speaking based on experience
Johnson, who had his fair share of failures and experiences with the Lakers in his time, admitted that it's normal to receive flack from fans and the media, especially if you're playing for the Lakers. That's the pressure that comes with wearing the purple and gold armor because these fans have witnessed not just several championships but also one all-time great after another lead their franchise.
"… They respected me when I said I didn't play well. You're the point guard, the ball is in your hands, you're the floor general. You gotta make better decisions, you gotta make them layups, you gotta hit them shots. And then you gotta play hard," Johnson said.
Westbrook has played in the NBA for 14 years and hasn't changed his playing style and approach. He's bullish, fierce, and proud, which can be either an advantage or disadvantage for him and his team. We all know which one it has been for the past few years.