Russell Westbrook says he can impact the Lakers without the ball in his hands
They already have two alpha males in LeBron James and Anthony Davis and now the Lakers have added another in the uber-talented Russell Westbrook.
How the three of them make it fit will determine the fate of the Lakers as they chase the franchise’s 18th NBA championship.
Westbrook, who was acquired from the Washington Wizards for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and the No. 22 pick in the first round of the NBA draft, seems determined to make the marriage work.
The Lakers acquired Russell Westbrook for Kyle Kuzma, Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell. Inside the talks behind the blockbuster trade that created a new Big 3.
“I’ve been blessed to able to go on my 14th season and each year I try to find ways, like I mentioned, to be able to uplift and make my teammates better around me,” Westbrook said Tuesday at his Lakers introductory news conference at Staples Center. “And AD and Bron are friends of mine first, and me being a teammate, my job is to come in and uplift it and they’ll do the same with me, vice versa.
“And as the season prolongs, we will figure it out. There will be ups and there will be downs. That’s normal, that’s OK, but we’re gonna figure out how to play the best way that we want to play to be able to win a championship.”
Westbrook will be the starting point guard for the Lakers, and he has been at his best with the basketball in his hands.
James is at his best with the basketball in his hands, a leading role he has dominated during his career and in the last three seasons with the Lakers.
A look at why Carmelo Anthony is a better fit now for the L.A. Lakers than earlier in his storied career.
Westbrook led the league in assists last season, averaging 11.7 per game. He also averaged a triple-double, adding 22.2 points and 11.5 rebounds to go with the assists. And, he has averaged a triple-double in four of his past five seasons.
“As you know, Bron is one of the best players to play this game and his ability to be able to kind of do everything on the floor allows me to be able to just figure it out,” Westbrook said. “I’m coming to a championship-caliber team and my job is to make sure that I’m able to make his game easier for him and I’ll find ways to do that throughout the game. As it pertains to ball-handling and all that, it really doesn’t matter. There’s may different ways you can impact the game without having the ball in your hands and I’ve been able to do that for many years and we’ll figure it out.”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel explained one way Westbrook, James and Davis can thrive.
“I think any time you have three great players like this, there is an element of sacrifice required,” Vogel said. “And we’ve all talked about that and are all in on that. But these three guys can do it all and what I love about our group — Bron, AD and Russ — is they’re all make-the-right-play players, you know what I mean? It’s not just about scoring or being a one-dimensional player. They can all do it all. So, I’m most excited about seeing what the three of them on the court at the same time looks like.”
Carmelo Anthony let the media know in no uncertain terms that the advanced age of many Lakers veterans is not the storyline he cares about.
Westbrook, 32, is a local talent who went to UCLA and Lawndale Leuzinger High.
His wife, kids and family live here. He grew up a Lakers fan, admiring Kobe Bryant, who became a friend and mentor for Westbrook.
So, yeah, Westbrook wants this to work so he can win a championship in his hometown.
“It’s surreal. I think it still hasn’t hit me yet, being from L.A., growing up not too far from here and being able to watch the parades, try to go to them try to miss school to try to go to them,” Westbrook said of playing for the Lakers. “Being a Laker fan and being from L.A., but now everything coming full circle for me, it’s a blessing. It’s a blessing. A lot of things I can’t put into actual words because some of these dreams don’t come true for people like myself and I’m truly blessed and thankful for this opportunity.”
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