Los Angles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook is in the midst of the biggest resurgence of his career, and it’s due to the sacrifice he’s making for the franchise.
Westbrook put his ego to the side
After undergoing a highly uneasy offseason in which his name was permanently linked with trade rumors, the 34-year-old remained in LA and has preserved through all the adversity.
Westbrook’s sacrifice for the greater good came early into the season, as he was asked by Lakers’ head coach Darvin Ham to come off the bench.
Needless to say, the former MVP has embraced the challenge and has been instrumental in leading the second unit as the roster starts to show signs of improvement following their woeful start to the season.
His stock is rising
After underwhelming alongside championship duo LeBron James and Anthony Davis last campaign, Westbrook has gone from perhaps the most untradable asset in the league, to one of the leading sixth men in the Association.
As a result of his surge in production, league personnel have applauded Westbrook’s performances and dedication to his new role. One of those NBA personalities has been former Lakers’ fan favorite Robert Horry, who spoke discussed Westbrook’s role on “The Crossover NBA Show” with Howard Beck.
“You can look at Russ as Manu Ginobili. Think about the energy. Everybody knows Manu should’ve been starting, but he provided a certain energy off that bench that a team needed, and I hope Russ looks at this situation, if it does happen, as not a demotion, as something that can help the team be better. Think about it, even if I came off the bench, I could give two craps about starting; I just wanted to be in the fourth quarter because that’s when it mattered. So if this does happen, it’d be good for the team," Horry said.
"I’m hoping Russ doesn’t be an Iverson if it comes to that, because he’s still a good player, he’s still on the cusp of still being a great player. He’s still able to do a lot of things that 90 percent of the league can’t do. And he can’t have that mindset as, ‘Oh, I’m a starter.’ You’re a basketball player, period," Horry added.
Horry knows a thing or two about coming off the bench for the Lakers. The legendary sharpshooter spent 7 fruitful seasons in LA and collected 7 NBA championships throughout his 17-year career.
Russ’ mindset is everything
In regards to Horry’s Iverson reference, Iverson underwent a very public struggle to accept a bench role after the heights of being a number one option and former MVP in the league.
Whilst it’s still early, it doesn’t look like Westbrook is taking that path, as he seems to be enjoying leading the second unit and finishing games when his number is called.
The UCLA product is averaging 15.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 7.5 assists off the bench, and is slowly but surely making his case for “Sixth Man of the Year” consideration come season’s end.