Is Russell Westbrook Right In Explaining His Performance With The Los Angeles Lakers?
After Christmas day, one of the days that have the most eyes over the entire season, thousands of followers, experts, and communicators launch their opinions and analyses. The duel of titans between Warriors and Suns, with the victory of Golden State and its great strategy. Milwaukee’s Comeback Through the Greek God. And the endless criticism pointing toward Hollywood.
” Honestly, I think I’m doing okay,” Russell Westbrook said in his Monday night media briefing. ” I think people expect me to do some 25 (points), 15 (rebounds), and 15 (assists) every game. That’s not normal. It’s not normal, something that people can do consistently. I know I’ve done it for the last five years, but it’s not normal .” Here you find more articles Marcus Freeman Wife: Name, Ethnicity, Parents, Pics.
Russ finished the Christmas game against the Nets with 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists, in addition to 3 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 4 of 20 shooting (20%) with 0 of 3 triples, and the worst plus/minus of the team (-23) in 36:53 minutes of action.
The critics pointed it out. Many people never understood the trade of the Lakers in the summer. Today, the half past and disastrous season for the Angelenos, even less so. To what extent is it being negative for the team’s performance? And, above all, after recent statements, is Westbrook right?
Russ is signing 19.8 points in the season (the lowest figure of his career since his second season in the league) with 46% shooting from the field, 31.3% on triples, and 65% on free throws ( the latter, also the lowest figure of his career). He adds 8.1 assists on average, the sixth-best average of the course; and 7.9 rebounds, ranking as the third guard that adds the most in that way. In addition, he is second in losses per game with 4.6, behind only James Harden’s 5.
These numbers are just that. Numbers. Averages are of little use if we do not pay attention to what is important: what happens on the court. Even using different advanced statistics metrics, we will never achieve a faithful analysis of the game if we stop looking at what is truly important. Viral videos have surfaced in recent days compiling Russ’s chaotic and erratic actions in his first half-season with the Lakers, but who’s surprised?
Russ is just that. Chaos and overflowing energy. If we review their encounters from other seasons, we will find the same. Even in 2020-21, in which he came to function remarkably with the Wizards after taking half a season for the pieces to fit together, we’ll see those insane, absurd plays. Russ has always been and always will be.
However, all this is noise and a lack of truth. All this hides the important thing: the use and functioning of Westbrook in the Lakers. And what transcends even more: the holes and shortcomings of a team that was NBA champion 14 months ago.
In that same media attention, LeBron James was asked about Russ’s performance. The team’s star downplayed the point guard’s missed shots and praised his competitive spirit. Like David Fizdale, the assistant manager while Frank Vogel is out, he said Westbrook just wants to work and is the one who puts the most pressure on himself. Stories like these are not surprising either. They won’t be the last, nor will they be the first, teammates to praise Russell’s work, as well as his presence in the locker room.
Everyone wants me to do one thing, but then they want me to do something different,” Westbrook continued to the media.
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And the reason is not lacking. The bar analysis, the insults, and the contempt only feed the bad dynamics of the team. Like the constant magnifying glass that playing for the Lakers means. The positive will be overly exalted, as will the negative. Even Alex Caruso, who is experiencing a great moment in the media Bulls, recently said that there is no comparison in terms of media weight and the number of videos that appear on social networks. Everything counts.
Westbrook’s Defense And The Lakers
lince the Angelenos took over Anthony Davis in 2019, they made their intentions very clear: to be titans on defense. They hired Vogel for it, a very outstanding coach behind, but who left doubts about what he could do on offense. Thus, the Lakers became a defensive juggernaut for the first two seasons.
The difference between the two, in addition to the injuries, was that during 2019-2020 they were a solvent team in attack. They had systems in place during the regular season and did the necessary work of building chemistry between new players throughout the season. In 2020-2021 they reinforced the attack, lost defense, suffered from injuries, and signed Andre Drummond as the starting pivot.
In the case of Russell, when he is on the court the Lakers concede 109.7 points per 100 possessions (53rd percentile) and when he is not they receive 111.7 points per 100 possessions (34th percentile). So can we say that they defend better with him? No. They have conceded fewer points, but the reality is that with Westbrook on the floor they have a defensive problem. Let’s review the shooting success data of the rivals he defends.
Russell Westbrook’s 1v1 Defense
- Triples: -1,9%
- Two shots: +4.2%
- At more than 4.5 meters: -1.8%
- At less than 3 meters: +6.8%
- Less than 1.8 meters: +4.7
He lowers the success of his rivals in the triple and increases them in shots of two. There is a current that fits with what we see on the court: as they get closer to the hoop, the percentages improve. And it is that the great concern with Westbrook lies in his effort and concentration. We have a couple of examples from the Brooklyn party.
Russ passes the block over without posing the slightest obstacle for Harden. Carmelo Anthony has to keep an eye on the Beard instead of Blake Griffin, and until Harden passes, Russ doesn’t get his position back either. It all results in a good option for Griffin that is covered by LeBron James.
The most viral action of the match. Russell signals Malik Monk for the defensive switch. He had started with Harden, but he marks Patty Mills as staying. Well, from the signal he does not look at the Australian again during the entire defense. He is aware of the ball, Mills moves outside and only turns his eyes on her again when she is going to defend -late- the triple.
The Losses Are A Huge Problem For The Lakers
The Lakers are 26th in the percentage of possessions that end in loss. They waste 15.4% of their possessions and have lost strength in the defensive balance, so these bad attacks produce more bad defenses. All wrong. The issue here is that they bring together the player with the most losses in history, LeBron, and the fifth, Westbrook.
James is the player with the most total losses for several reasons, but the main one is durability. He is always among the players who lose the most balls, but his case is different from Russell’s because of the decision-making. LeBron racks up losses as a result of having a high volume of play. A significant amount of Russ’s is for bad decisions or odd moves on good decisions.
What happens when both play together? They lost 15.4% of their possessions. And just Russ? 15.8%. And only LeBron? 16.6%. So how can they possibly lose more possessions to James if he’s a better passer and more dependable on turnovers? It is due to the poor game systems of the team. If we review the Laker’s play type, we see that it hardly has any development, something that stands out when watching them play.
The Plays Of The Lakers
- Transition : 16.2%
- Catch&shoot: 15,5%
- Pick&roll executed by handler: 12.5%
- Post : 10.2%
- Rinses: 9.3%
Only in transition do they exceed the point per possession (1.06) and in shooting situations on firm feet they nail it (1). In the rest, they are below the point per possession. We have discussed before the lack of systems, the lack of passing, and the lack of rhythm. The Lakers have lost in quality of play and are relying more and more on what their stars generate. If the spacing is poor and the systems hardly contribute, the losses increase.
” People are saying ‘let Russ be Russ,’ and I don’t think anyone understands what that means,” Russ said. ” People repeat it, but no one understands it except me. I’m going to lean into that and keep doing what I think I have to do. I’m going to let everything outside of the locker room handle itself .”