After starting the season with a lot of excitement due to their acquisition of Russell Westbrook, the Los Angeles Lakers are now 6-5 and are 8th in the Western Conference. LeBron James has already missed a number of games due to injury and will likely miss 1-2 months more of action due to an abdominal strain. LeBron’s absence does not come as a surprise to many, the expectation was for him to manage his minutes during the regular season, and it was for this reason that the Los Angeles Lakers looked to bring in Westbrook.
Despite being one game over .500, it is clear that this is not the start that Laker fans expected as the team’s schedule has been fairly light. The underwhelming performances from the Purple and Gold are now starting to raise some alarm bells; with Westbrook being the focal point of all the complaints, Russ just has not been that good.
“Russel Westbrook is an unfixable disaster for the Lakers.”
Skip Bayless, ">Undisputed
Everyone knows that the dynamic between the big three will take some time to figure out, but considering that James has been either out of the lineup or playing off the ball more when available, Russ has had every opportunity to prove he can play winning basketball so far. Instead, Russ is averaging five turnovers a game, and with James out of the lineup against Portland the other night, Westbrook shot 1-13 from the field against a team that barely plays any defense. Russ is not just missing shots; he is missing them badly, and to make matters worse, he is playing out of control.
“I said Buddy Hield would be a better fit for the Lakers than Russell Westbrook.”
Shannon Sharpe, ">Undisputed
For some, it might be too early to tell if this is indeed a disaster, but championship basketball is all about efficiency. Remember when the Golden State Warriors made the jump from a young team on the rise to championship contenders? The most significant change Steve Kerr made was to get the team to limit their turnovers, and the success happened almost overnight once they did. Hield is not the superstar that Westbrook is, but he plays within himself and can score the ball beyond catch and shoot situations. Naturally, players like Hield will turn the ball over less than players like Westbrook.
The Lakers are now in a tough spot with Russ electing to simply play his style of basketball while LeBron James is out. By letting “Russ be Russ,” the Lakers are playing some of the worst basketball we have seen from them since LeBron James came to Los Angeles. The Lakers are not only inefficient on offense, but Russ is not great on the defensive side of the ball either, which has significantly impacted their defensive ability.
“AD and LeBron bear some of this also.”
Shannon Sharpe, ">Undisputed
If this is indeed a sign of things to come, this is no longer Rob Pelinka’s problem to fix, simply because no one will take Russ at this point. Pelinka had a deal for Hield in place, but LeBron and AD pushed for the deal to acquire Russ while letting go of their best perimeter defender and shooter in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Pelinka did his job - now it’s time for LeBron and AD to get Westbrook to do his.