Wednesday, February 1 2023

Russell Westbrook has enjoyed being in the upper echelon of NBA point guards for most of his career, but last season, his first with the Los Angeles Lakers, was less than ideal.

Westbrook only averaged 18.5 points per game — his fewest since the 2009-10 season — led the Lakers in turnovers (3.8), and only shot 29.8% from beyond the arc. He also shot the third-worst percentage from the free-throw line in his career at 66.7% and was constantly criticized for his defense, featuring a career-worst 113.6 defensive rating last season.

Despite those subpar stats, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss told The Athletic’s Sam Amick that Westbrook was the team’s “best” player last season.

“All I can say is that, from my point of view, [Westbrook] was our best player last year,” Buss said. “He played pretty much every single game, showed up, worked hard. I would have loved to see what this team would have looked like if they had stayed healthy. It’s really tough to win when Anthony Davis isn’t on the court. LeBron [James] was hurt a lot of the season. But Russ showed up every game and played hard every night. And, you know, I just really appreciate him for who he is and what he brings to the team.”

Following that interview, Amick asked Buss to clarify, and she opted for a different descriptor.

“The word I should have used was ‘consistent,’” Buss said. “He played 78 games last season.”

Westbrook was there for all but four games, while James and Davis missed a combined 68.

Buss’ comments might have been in good faith, or they could have been a tactic to raise Westbrook’s diminished trade value, but his $47.1 million paycheck likely won’t look more attractive to other teams.

Skip Bayless believes the remedy is for the Lakers to cut their losses, pay Westbrook and move forward.

James led the Lakers in scoring last season, so it’s hard to back up Buss’ initial statement about Westbrook being the best player on the team. But when it came to game day, Westbrook was suited up and ready to go.

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Source: FOX Sports


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