If you are yet to hear of Russell Westbrook’s turnover woes this season, then you have been living under a rock. Westbrook’s ferocious style of play is often a joy to watch and has earned him the respect of his peers, but turning the ball over consistently is no recipe for success when you are trying to win a championship.
Longest turnover streak in NBA history
Westbrook has gone a whopping 407 consecutive games with at least one turnover, the longest since the NBA started recording the statistic in ‘77/’78. Russ ended the horrendous streak on Tuesday night against the Sacramento Kings by not contributing a single turnover to the Lakers’ season-low five turnovers for the game. The Lakers also went on to win the game for their third straight victory and forth out of the last five.
More importantly, the victory puts the Lakers above .500, and somehow, it seems that the Purple and Gold are starting to find their stride. While many of these teams have not been very good ones, Russ’ performance against the Kings on Tuesday night perhaps offers some light at the end of the tunnel for the Lakers.
Westbrook was attacking the basket a lot more, with his usual reckless, aggressive style, of course. But it was a great game for him overall, and Westbrook’s aggressiveness made it much easier for his teammates to play off of him. He also had only two assists but played well, so perhaps triple-double Russ is not the version of himself that he needs to bring to the team.
Disregarding the significance of turnovers
Playing for the Lakers is a major moment in any basketball player's career. But when you're born in Long Beach, grew up in Hawthorne, and played for UCLA, it carries extra weight. Westbrook always dreamt of playing for the Lakers and everyone around him said they can see it means the world to Russell to perform great for the Purple and Gold.
With players today being extra sensitive about everything said and written about them, it's no surprise Brodie noticed everyone and their uncle is talking about his turnovers as the main issue for the Lakers' troubles this season. Russ being Russ, he attacked those comments like they were the rim.
“My game is not predicated on shots or if I turn the ball over. I missed some shots, that's part of the game. I'm allowed to miss shots. I can do that, like any other player. I can do that. I can turn the ball over too. I can do that. That's all a part of the game. But when you watch a basketball game and figure out what impact is, making the right plays, boxing out, rebounding, whatever that may be, making the right play, making the right reads. That's all about being a basketball player.”
Russell Westbrook, postgame after the win against the Timberwolves
Westbrook's right that boxing out and rebounding is important, but so are turnovers and making shots. Having the longest turnover streak in NBA history says something about his tendencies. Now that he is on a potentially great team, the thing that Russ has been most known for may be the part of his game that is least beneficial to winning, which could be a rude awakening for Westbrook.
Has Russ finally found a way to fit into this Lakers squad and help them win? Or will he go back to his old ways and continue to hamper the Lakers’ progress? Only time will tell, but this is starting to get exciting for fans in Tinseltown.