Can Russell Westbrook redeem himself?
Yes! It takes energy and effort to do the unglamorous part of defense – helping the helper, boxing out, sprinting back on defense, closing out hard on the nearest shooter, bumping any cutters that dare enter the basket.
He never did any of those things in Oklahoma City, Houston, or in Washington because he was called upon to carry the team’s offense. Now, he is a $44 million role player after LeBron James took over the offense.
I feel strongly that actions speak louder than words. For Russell Westbrook, a man under fire for both, his redemption story began as soon as he dunked on Rudy Gobert.
He will have to accept a role he has not had in nearly 15 years! At UCLA, he was the team’s third scoring option and was their best defensive player.
For the Lakers to have any chance to make a deep playoff run, Westbrook will need to reprise that same role he had at UCLA. He would need to channel all that energy normally reserved for offense and reroute it to his defense. His defensive rebounding will have to matter again.
The man with the all-time record for triple-doubles has to get triple-doubles in the times he boxes out, helps his fellow teammate help on the drive, and closes out hard enough to prevent his man to take an open shot.
When he runs the point, he needs to slow down the game to the speed of his teammates. He is way too fast for his veteran teammates. The younger guys can run with him but he has to understand that these guys cannot beat most teams when the game becomes a track meet.
By the way, these are the little things that should be keeping Austin Reeves and Stanley Johnson in the Lakers future plans for years to come.
Give both guys way more playing time!
Can Westbrook do what it takes to save his NBA career?
In the words of Vince McMahon’s theme song, there is no chance in hell of that happening. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Russell Westbrook is too entrenched in his ways to change his game for the betterment of the team. Even if he does start to make changes, it is probably too late to help the Lakers.
Let me know what y’all think!