Does Russell Westbrook make Lakers better in 2021-22

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Russell Westbrook joins Lakers
Russell Westbrook joins Lakers stars LeBron James & A.D.
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Does Russell Westbrook’s contract make the Lakers a better team in 2021-22? He is the Lakers top salary in 2022, making more money than both LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but this doesn’t necessarily make Los Angeles a better basketball team this season.

Who is Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook’s stats tell quite a story. They are originally provocative and numbingly stupefying. Westbrook has been both overly appreciated for his play and questioned when he should have received praise.

triple-doubles

Russell Westbrook gets traded from Washington to the Lakers

Russell Westbrook’s career stats have to start with his 184 career triple-doubles. On May 10, 2021, he surpassed Oscar Robertson for the most triple doubles in NBA history.

This 28 point, 13 rebound, 21 assist game vs the Atlanta Hawks was the 182nd triple double of his career.

He has recorded triple doubles with 20+ assists six-times, 20+ rebounds three-times, 40+ points on thirteen occasions and 50+ points on three separate times.

“The Brodie” has averaged a triple double in 4 seasons during his NBA career, (17-19,2021) a feat only done once prior by Oscar Robertson in 1961-62.

20 years ago

If you would have told an NBA expert, someone who had been around the game for decades, that a player in the near future would average a triple double 3 years in a row and 4-out-of-5 seasons, you’d have been laughed out of the room.

The reasoning behind this thought process was sound, if Magic Johnson didn’t average a triple double, it wasn’t ever going to happen again.

This was of course before the NBA changed many of its rules to incorporate more offense and to increase scoring.

With that being said, only Russell has accomplished this, no other NBA player has. Will players like Luka Doncic or Ben Simmons someday average triple doubles too? Time will tell.

Westbrook has 184 triple doubles but in his first six seasons, he only had 8 total.

Honors

Magic Johnson running Showtime.

Russell Westbook’s career stats led him to winning the 2016-17 NBA Most Valuable Player award. He has two scoring titles, 9 All-NBA teams (2x 1st team), he’s a 9-time NBA all-star, and he’s led the league in assists three times.

Westbrook was the 4th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Seattle SuperSonics, who not long after relocated the franchise and became known as the Oklahoma City Thunder.

As a basketball player, he has never been a free agent. All of Russell Westbrook’s contracts were extended before his current deals expired.

When the Los Angeles Lakers traded for Russell Westbrook’s contract they gave up Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and the 22nd pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

This is just too many assets but to make the money work within the Lakers payroll, they didn’t have much of a choice. The real question is this really something they needed to do?

It’s rhetorical, this was reckless and not only doesn’t make the Lakers better but it probably makes them worse. They should’ve traded to get Rajon Rondo back. It would’ve been much cheaper and more effective.

Assist-to turnover ratio

Here is the first problem with Russell Westbrook joining the Lakers. When Russ is playing on a team that is a first round out in the NBA playoffs his problems don’t show up because his weaknesses on the court only show themselves and matter in championship level situations.

Russell Westbrook might be the Lakers new point guard but he couldn’t be my point guard. Not a chance. Not if your team has championship aspirations. It’s a mistake.

  • 2017- 31.6 ppg (led NBA) – 10.4 rebounds – 10.7 assists – 1.92 assist-to-turnover ratio
  • 2018- 25.4 ppg – 10.1 rebounds – 10.4 assists (led NBA) – 2.15 assist- to-turnover ratio – (led NBA turnovers)
  • 2019- 22.9 ppg – 11.1 rebounds – 10.7 assists (led NBA) – 2.41 assist-to-turnover ratio
  • 2021- 22.2 ppg – 11.5 rebounds – 11.7 assists (led NBA) – 2.44 assist-to turnover ratio – (led NBA turnovers)

protecting the ball

Chris Paul vs Jrue Holiday in the 2021 NBA Finals.

Defense and protecting the ball are the most important elements to teams winning NBA championships. Many people don’t believe in this but just look at any season in NBA history. The data speaks for itself.

This past season, the Bucks and Suns had the 10th and 11th best offenses in the NBA playoffs before the Finals started. They had the two top defenses in the playoffs though.

Chris Paul had a 4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio in 2021. The 12th time he was at 4:1 or better. CP3 has the best assist-to-turnover ratio in NBA history at 3.92. The Bucks PG Jrue Holiday had a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio in 2020-21 too.

Both of these players are top notch defenders as well. Paul is a 9-time all defensive selection and Holiday is a 3-time selection.

Within the biggest of games, lies the most substantial of possessions. These possessions are the difference in winning and losing championships. They separate the winners from the losers.

Russell Westbrook isn’t a very good defender and he doesn’t protect the ball. He will have many turnovers and this isn’t what a championship contender wants from it’s point guard.

Russell Westbrook joins the Lakers payroll, making more $$ than LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He has a career assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.07. This will stop a championship contender in its tracks.

2020 Lakers

Russell Westbrook joins the Lakers and looks to provide what Rondo did for L.A

What Rajon Rondo did for the 2020 world champion Los Angeles Lakers is understated even when his importance is recognized. In the 2020 Playoffs, Rondo played great defense and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.1.

With Russell Westbrook as the Lakers point guard, I don’t like their chances against a team like the Phoenix Suns. He won’t protect the ball or play defense like Chris Paul will. These are the things that become the difference in winning and losing when the teams talent levels are comparable.

teaming with LeBron

I doubt LeBron will have trouble playing with Russ. I do question that Russell Westbrook’s career stats are what they are because he dominates the ball. Then there’s the question of who is running the offense and getting rebounds and pushing pace?

Having two players that have an all around game, getting points, rebounds, and assists isn’t going to be a negative for Los Angeles but does it all fit together smoothly?

Lakers Payroll

Russell Westbrook joins the Lakers and teams up with LeBron And Anthony Davis

Adding Russell Westbrook to the Lakers means adding his $44.2 million salary. Making his salary the highest on the Lakers payroll. The following season it increases to over $47 million.

There won’t be much the Lakers can do contract wise after this. One thing that can be done is signing Dennis Schroeder because his contract is a Bird rights contract.

The Lakers won’t be able to give this kind of money to anyone else.

Buddy Hield

Before Russell Westbrook joined the Lakers, it seemed that they were going to acquire shooter Buddy Hield from the Sacramento Kings. I think this would’ve been a better trade for L.A.

First off, it would’ve left the Lakers with some more money to spend moving forward. This Lakers payroll is going to resemble the Brooklyn Nets and how their payroll breaks down with two-thirds minimum contracts or close to it.

sign-and-trade

I’ve noticed that some people think they should sign Dennis Schroeder in a sign-and-trade to acquire Hield but this idea is unrealistic.

Signing players to more than they are worth doesn’t lead to success. Russell Westbrook is the highest paid player on the Lakers payroll. Does that seem right?

If there is a sign-and-trade, Los Angeles becomes hard-capped and with the Lakers payroll, I can’t see how this could work as an option.

Paying Schroeder and moving Westbrook to shooting guard won’t work either. That’s what the Houston Rockets did with Russ and James Harden. Westbrook’s game was rendered ineffective at SG. Most people felt he had lost a step before going to Washington and moving back to PG.

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