Important 3rd Scorer
Once again, the Los Angeles Lakers take a long hard look at themselves this off-season.
Taking a long hard look at yourself is so much easier when you have just won a championship which the Los Angeles Lakers most certainly did.
It would be remarkably easy for the Lakers to pay the players who were on the team last season and just run things back.
That would be the easy option. Just because it’s the easy option doesn’t make it the right one.
While the purple and gold won the championship last season, you can’t gloss over the areas that they most certainly need to improve upon.
For better or for worse, the Los Angeles Lakers were poor scoring the ball outside of the likes of Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
Going into the season, a lot was expected of numerous role players on the Lakers roster.
Kyle Kuzma was expected to be a 6th man of the year candidate who would average close to 20PPG.
That didn’t happen.
Danny Green was expected to be the Lakers 3-point assassin who would be a good scoring boost to the Lakers starting lineup.
That didn’t happen.
DeMarcus Cousins was expected to be the Lakers center who would come in and do what he does and get buckets.
Unfortunately, a season-ending injury stopped that from happening.
While a decent amount of players showed up and made themselves known in the playoffs most notably KCP, on a single game to game basis, the consistency all season just wasn’t there on the Lakers for a 3rd scorer.
If the season is to begin this early, the Lakers will need someone to take on the scoring load for when LeBron or Anthony Davis simply are just coasting because they need rest.
In enters Russell Westbrook.
Now we can speak about Westbrook’s scoring.
Russell Westbrook is unquestionably one of the most ball-dominant players in the entire NBA. He loves the ball in his hands, he loves making plays and he loves to score. People might question how Westbrook, LeBron, and Anthony Davis could work together.
It is quite simple actually.
Whilst LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook are on the floor, Westbrook is a glorified cutter, to the rim, a slasher, and someone who will leak ahead in transition and receive touchdown passes from LeBron James off the defensive rebounds. He will also be shooting exclusively from mid-range.
LeBron and AD are the focal points of the offense.
When LeBron is sitting, Anthony Davis is still the focal point of the offense.
Westbrook will focus on running an effective pick and roll game with Anthony Davis allowing Davis to get easier points.
When both Davis and LeBron sit, that’s when the Lakers surround Westbrook with a bunch of 3-point shooters and allow Westbrook to be Westbrook.
Russ will still shoot from mid-range and he will slash to the rim and get points at the rim. He will also be dishing the ball out to the open man.
If Westbrook can buy into his role of being the 3rd guy and scoring in the flow of the offense and then taking over when both AD and Bron are sitting then he can continue to score 25PPG.
Those 25PPG would be huge for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Westbrook was able to average at the bare minimum 23PPG per game over the last 6 seasons.
This includes playing with James Harden on the Rockets, Kevin Durant on the Thunder, and Paul George on the Thunder.
Harden and Durant are considered two of the most ball-dominant scorers in recent NBA history alongside Westbrook and he was still capable of scoring 23+PPG.
Maybe his points total take a hit with the Lakers but you can still expect Westbrook to score around 20-25PPG each night.
That would be huge for the Lakers as it would take a significant amount of pressure off LeBron and AD to be superstars each and every night.
Allow them to save themselves for the postseason, let Russ be the regular-season scorer who gets the Lakers the points they need to win regular-season games while AD and Bron rest.