Russell Westbrook was the most hated man in Los Angeles for much of the ‘21/’22 NBA season. His homecoming carried expectations of multiple titles and world dominance, but fans saw a failed trip to the playoffs and thus, an early vacation to Cancun. However, team statistics reveal that an ample amount of the criticism Westbrook received might be unwarranted. Among the future Hall of Famers who donned the legendary Purple and Gold this season, Westbrook put up most stats.
Leading the charge
Numbers reveal that Westbrook led the Lakers in almost all statistical categories. This is impressive given the Lakers Hall of Fame lineup. Not to mention the presence of LeBron James, who literally does everything for his team.
There’s a good reason why Westbrook found relative success despite the Lakers’ mediocre season. The most obvious is that he’s been the healthiest among the Lakers’ three stars. Westbrook remained durable all-season long with 78 games played. James only suited up for 56 games, while Anthony Davis laced his sneakers up for just 40.
It was somehow expected that Westbrook’s numbers would take a back seat with two stars beside him. But given the injuries to Davis and James, Westbrook needed to maintain a level of production to make up for their absence. He succeeded in this regard though it didn’t result in wins — a stinging fact that has caused anxiety to the Purple and Gold fateful. Davis recently pointed out how difficult it has been for Westbrook to adjust his playstyle accordingly.
Davis gave a brief overview of Westbrook’s career arc, highlighting that the former MVP had made all sorts of tweaks to his game to accommodate his new teammates. It’s not just Westbrook who had to recalibrate his playstyle. Davis and James, too, had to adapt their game to maximize their production with their new teammates.
For Davis, this is the main crux of his argument on why Westbrook shouldn’t take the blame for the Lakers’ subpar year. The entire team had to harmonize their respective styles with one another. A good proof of this is that head coach Frank Vogel came up with around 40 different starting lineups throughout the season.
Various reports reveal that the Lakers intend to ship out Westbrook in the offseason. This has relieved many Lakers fans, especially those who had slandered his name. Yet the numbers prove that Westbrook tried everything he could to make sure his team won. This alone deserves the utmost respect.