Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Does Russell Westbrook make the Lakers a better team in 2021-22? He becomes there top salary in 2022, making more money than both LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but this doesn’t necessarily make Los Angeles a better team.
Table of contents
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.
Russell Westbrook’s stats begin with his 184 career triple-doubles. On May 10, 2021, Westbrook surpassed Oscar Robertson with the most triple doubles in NBA history. The 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 6 times, 20+ rebounds 3 times, 40+ points 13 times and 50+ points 3 different 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 expert of NBA basketball, someone who had been around the game for decades that someone would have averaged 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.
Westbrook has 184 triple doubles but in his first six seasons, he only had 8 total.
Russell Westbook’s stats have led him to winning the 2016-17 NBA MVP award. Two scoring titles, 9 All-NBA teams (2x 1st team), he’s a 9-time all-star, and he’s led the league in assist 3 times.
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
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.
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 NBA 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.
The point being within the biggest of games, there are the most substantial of possessions that lead to winning 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 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 it’s tracks.
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. The aspect I question is they both rebound and pass for assists leading to triple doubles.
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 how does it all fit together smoothly?
Adding Russell Westbrook to the Lakers means adding his $44.2 million dollar 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.
Before Russell Westbrook joined the Lakers, it seemed that they were going to acquire shooter Buddy Hield from Sacramento. 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 team is going to resemble the Brooklyn Nets and how their payroll breaks down with two-thirds of the payroll minimum contracts or close to it.
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.
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 Rockets did with Russ and Harden and 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.