The blockbuster trade that got Russell Westbrook into the “City of Angels” is for now definitely the biggest move of the off-season, as the Los Angeles Lakers formed the newest big three in the league with Russ, LeBron, and AD. To complement that trio, the Lakers have decided to fill the roster with a bunch of veterans and shooters to get some depth and much-needed experience in the hunt for a championship.
Even though the star power is very lucrative and the Lakers will be a must-watch team next season, the question of the fit between these stars was raised soon after the trade. After all, with LeBron and Russ we are talking about two ball-dominant guys, most effective with the ball in their hands while not being the most reliable off-ball players or shooters.
Of course, one of the most notorious LeBron critics, Skip Bayless, didn’t miss the opportunity to take a shot at LeBron and criticize the decision to go after Westbrook, rather than playing the point guard position himself and getting another wing player, like Buddy Hield:
“It is a no-brainer, as in ‘LeBron, you have no brains if you’re going to choose Russell Westbrook, a disaster waiting to happen, the all-time ball hog, a guy who 4 times has led the league in usage rate and 4 other times he was second in usage rate because he wants the basketball in his hands.‘ You’re choosing him to be your primary decision-maker at point guard when clearly, you – LeBron – were born to play the position of point guard.”Skip Bayless, Undisputed
You can’t trust Skip to be objective with takes about LeBron, as he overreacted like always, but there are bits of truth in his statements. Maybe getting a dead-eye shooter like Buddy Hield would be a much more natural fit next to a distributor of LeBron’s level. But when you compare Westbrook and Buddy, there are levels between the quality of these two players. And what ultimately gives you an edge in the playoffs is star power.
Westbrook playing the way he played for his whole career won’t cut it with LeBron. The fast-paced and sometimes mindless way of basketball is the polar opposite of LeBron’s calculated and efficient way of running an offense. But reports have come out saying Westbrook will adapt and defer in order of the team’s benefits, but it’s very hard to imagine Westbrook playing any other way.
Maybe LeBron’s impact and status will be the key to Westbrook taking a step back and doing his role, as he will be the point guard, tasked with running the offense, while LeBron will go to his younger days of being a forward and trying to feed off his explosive point guard. If they manage to find a niche and make it work, it could be genius, but it can very well go the other way and end up in flames if the stars don’t adapt to each other and play together. Either way, it will be fun to watch.