After an uneven start that garnered no shortage of criticism in every direction, Russell Westbrook played like the superstar the Lakers acquired him to be over the past several games. After shooting just 42.7% from the field with a box plus-minus in the negative (-4.7) in his first 15 games as a Laker, Westbrook has reached another gear over the team’s last 10 games (prior to their loss to the Grizzlies).
The veteran out of UCLA is averaging a near double-double (21.9 points, 9.2 assists) over that stretch while shooting 48.8% from the field and 35.7% from three-point range. The Lakers are outscoring opponents by three points when he’s on the court, as Westbrook inches closer to being the superstar force of nature that the Lakers reshuffled their roster to acquire over the summer.
Still, as evidenced by his rough start to the season, integrating him into a team with two other superstars has been bumpy at times as Westbrook figures out how to fit in alongside fellow greats LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But Russ has been doing whatever is necessary to make the partnership work, Lakers assistant coach David Fizdale told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin recently:
“I think where Russ is in his career from a standpoint of being close and almost having it and not getting it and being very open to doing what’s necessary to win a title,” Fizdale said. “I think that he’s really there.”
It’s worth noting, however, that while Russ described himself in that same ESPN piece as always wanting to do what is best for his team, he also told McMenamin that he’s at peace with not winning a championship as long as he’s trying his best to make things work.
But whatever Westbrook’s motivations are, there hasn’t exactly been much animosity pointed at him from within the Lakers’ locker room this season, even when he appeared to be contributing to the team’s struggles. The Lakers have a veteran roster that knows that the NBA season is a marathon, not a sprint, and still seem confident that with Westbrook in the fold, they can make a run to the NBA Finals.