Lakers have unrealistic hopes for Russell Westbrook

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - MARCH 31: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - MARCH 31: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Lakers have left no stone unturned in their efforts to offload Russell Westbrook this offseason. It’s truly maddening to think the Lakers bypassed other trade suitors and free agents to acquire Westbrook rom Washington, and it’s even worse knowing LeBron James and Anthony Davis endorsed the move.

James has been outspoken about wanting to finish his career in Los Angeles, but the longer Westbrook remains on the roster, the more likely it is (or so it seems) that LeBron will consider his options.

Until a legitimate trade partner emerges — that likely won’t become clear until the Nets get their ducks in a row with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving— Lakers fans should work under the assumption that Westbrook will stay in Hollywood.

After all, that’s what Los Angeles’ braintrust is doing.

During the recent meeting between James and the Lakers’ front office, Yahoo Sports insider Chris Haynes uncovered an alarming detail: the team is hopeful Westbrook will make strides as a corner three-point shooter.

The Lakers are delusional if they think Russell Westbrook will improve as a shooter this season.

Ironically enough, Haynes noted the meeting involved “expressing concerns, and hearing out strategies and opinions to assure there wouldn’t be a repeat of last season’s epic failure.” Funny, how does hoping that Westbrook suddenly improves as a three-point shooter fall under the “avoid epic failure” blueprint?

Doesn’t seem like a foolproof plan.

Westbrook’s limitations as a shooter have plagued him throughout his career. If he had just a respectable perimeter game, we could be talking about one of the most dominant offensive forces in league history. Just imagine prime Westbrook, who dunked over centers for fun and could blow past any defender off the dribble, being able to keep defense’s honest as a jump-shooter.

Of course, Russ is a 30.5% three-point shooter for his career. His career-high for a season was 34.3% back in 2016-17 and he’s finished below the 30% threshold (the league average is roughly 35%) eight times, including six of the last eight seasons.

If you can believe it, however, Westbrook was shooting corner threes at an elite clip through mid-December last campaign.

It’s unclear what Westbrook finished the season from the corner. Even if he was adequate, what’s stopping him from pulling the trigger on non-corner threes? Whether he was clamped on defense or left wide open, the former MVP attempted 3.4 per game last year and finished with a lowly 29.8% percentage.

Now 33 years old and approaching his 15th season, the Lakers are delusional if they think Westbrook will make strides as a shooter. Even if corner threes are his so-called sweet spot, this plan is almost insulting to fans.