The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Russell Westbrook over the offseason, but with a lot of similarities between his and LeBron James’s game, how should the Lakers maximize the greatness of both players on a nightly basis?
Well, it may have to come down to both players seeing less minutes together out there on the court, as both love having the ball in their hands and serving as primary playmakers.
Westbrook on a Roll Without James in the Lineup
James has missed the Lakers’ last two games with a sprained ankle, but Westbrook has more than carried the load in his absence, as he averaged 26.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 10.5 assists per game, getting back to being the player we’ve been accustomed to seeing.
Westbrook is not the type of guy who can catch and shoot from three or create his own shot at any point in time. Westbrook is a strong finisher at the rim and can find his rhythm in the mid-range at times, but he is not always the most efficient in either area.
Still, Westbrook’s will to make it happen can carry a team to a victory on any given night, as he proved that last season with the Washington Wizards.
The Wizards won 15 of their last 21 games down the stretch of last season, and none of that could’ve been accomplished without Westbrook carrying the load alongside Bradley Beal.
James and Anthony Davis are going to have their moments where they’re in and out of the lineup all season long. Westbrook may too, but he almost serves as a great insurance policy when James is forced out of the lineup, as he can take over as the primary scorer and facilitator and be trusted with the ball down the stretch of games.
Making it Work
James and Westbrook are still going to have to learn to coexist together out there on the court and complement each other’s strengths.
Both players are going to play over 30 minutes a night, especially in the playoffs.
However, the Lakers can take a page out of the Brooklyn Nets’ book, as they had Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving share more minutes together out there on the court, and James Harden more or less play with the bench unit given his ability to get all of his teammates involved.
Westbrook could serve in a similar role as Harden, as Westbrook could be the one to involve all of the other role players while still knowing when to take over as a scorer while allowing James to rest his soon-to-be 37 year old body on the bench.
It’s going to take time for the Lakers to figure this thing out and parlay this into a potential championship, but with James having a track record of being able to make things work with other star players, the Lakers should feel good about their chances.