Calling Russell Westbrook a 3-and-D player would be a drastic miscalculation of him as an athlete. However, in Darvin Ham’s dream scenario, that could be the type of player he envisions Westbrook becoming for the Lakers.
Ham has spoken of his desire to see Westbrook refocus himself on the court and become a more impactful defender. Offensively, there are a number of ways Westbrook could find success, whether improving as a cutter, showcasing a desire to be a regular screener on the ball or being a more willing contributor from the dunker spot.
One other area that perhaps isn’t discussed as much is an area Westbrook not only had success last season but in recent years in his career. While he’s a below-average 3-point shooter overall, Westbrook has found success in the corners, which is an area in which the franchise is hoping to further utilize him, according to a recent piece by Chris Haynes.
“The team is also hopeful for a corner-3 shooting percentage bump from Russell Westbrook next season, sources said.”
Obviously, all of this is working under the assumption Westbrook is back next season, one that feels less likely by the day. But if he is in the purple and gold, finding ways to get the most out of him is imperative.
And Westbrook has been not only been a useful shooter in the corner, he’s been above average the last two years. Last season, according to Cleaning the Glass, Westbrook ranked in the 79th percentile among point guards as a corner 3-point shooter, one season after finishing in the 66th percentile the year before.
It didn’t come on limited attempts, either. Over those two seasons, he’s a combined 36 of 88 for a shooting percentage of 40.9%. That’s a good percentage! No ifs, ands or buts needed.
It makes sense, then, that Ham and the Lakers are looking to put him in a position in which he has had success while game-planning for him to be on the roster. Making him a corner 3-point shooter can allow the floor to be spaced without forcing him to drastically improve his game .
Again, all of this is coming under an (unlikely?) assumption of him being on the roster come October and into the season, but if he is, the Lakers seem to be on the right track of finding ways to better utilize him.