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Russell Westbrook says he needs to play better for Lakers to have a chance at championship

Russell Westbrook is well aware that the Lakers will need him to play — and fit in — better if the team is going to fulfill it’s goal of winning a championship.

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Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s fair to say that this season hasn’t gone like either the Los Angeles Lakers or Russell Westbrook had hoped when LeBron James and Anthony Davis pushed the team’s brain trust to make a deal for the enigmatic veteran point guard this offseason.

Westbrook has openly acknowledged his own poor play of late, even saying that while he was “disappointed” by his recent benching, he is still committed to making things work and sacrificing as much as necessary to help the team be successful. He has at least been honest when stuff isn’t working, and unlike so many in the organization, isn’t trying to deflect blame for his own failures.

But Westbrook also very much still seems to believe that success is possible, for both himself and the team. He told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN as much on Friday, and pointed the finger squarely at himself. He knows he’ll have to be better for the Lakers to reach their goals:

“I think it’s important to know that part of the process of being on a new team is that there are going to be a lot of ups and downs and struggles throughout a season,” Westbrook told ESPN. “It’s been a challenge for the last three years — just trying to figure things out. I lean on a lot of my faith to be able to stay locked in on my craft and work my a— off and find ways to make situations work. The challenge is how to be the version of myself for this team, that’s what I’m trying to figure out.

“I want to get better as the season goes on, and I’ve got to take responsibility for the things I’m doing and how I’m making those around me better. We have a legitimate chance to be able to win it all, and to do that, I’ll have to better — and I know that I will be.”

Suffice to say that — given how his bosses just publicly gave the coaching staff permission to bench Westbrook if necessary — Westbrook may be one of the few left with that level of belief. But hey, it’s better to believe in the improbable than to give up entirely. The Lakers may not reach the lofty heights Westbrook and the team are still hoping for, but at least they’re committed to trying. Given where they are, that’s at least something, even if it may not be enough in the end.

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