Los Angeles Lakers have started a new season full of unknowns, with a completely new team and high expectations from the fans that they can be one of the candidates to beat the powerful Brooklyn Nets in a hypothetical final. One of the players that tends to have the spotlights on him is the always questioned Russell Westbrook. The bet of LeBron James this summer has been clear, they do not want any complications like last season and so they have decided to add a third star that can win games when him or Anthony Davis are absent.
With the pressure from an Angeleno kid that returns home, Russell Westbrook started his adventure in the Lakers with a poor preseason where the lack of minutes was clearly noticed. His debut in the NBA against the Warriors did not go well either, collecting 8 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 35 minutes. LeBron wanted to downplay it in the post game press conference, saying that Russ would be able to find his place as games passed by.
Vogel’s biggest issue towards the new season is not going to be the fit of his stars, but making the team to work out overall, second unit guys to add and fix the few effectiveness from the three-point line. Against Phoenix we could see a messy and lack of ideas team that was perfectly illustrated on the collision between AD and Howard, two teammates that seemed to not know each other at all.
Against Memphis, Westbrook started to be in the same page as his teammates and found the way to help his team. Russ showed off his ability to assist and was very useful on the Pick & Roll. Vogel managed to find the best game situations for him and he ended up being crucial with 13 points, 7 assists, 13 rebounds and 4 steals.
Furthermore, with 28 points and a 75% of accuracy on triples (6/8), Carmelo Anthony proved that he has not signed for the Lakers just to sell jerseys and play along with his friend LeBron, as he can also provide his team with wins against an unstoppable Ja Morant (40 points).
Lime and sand without James:
Some trouble on his ankle left LeBron James out of the next few games. This way, the time to prove the importance of a third star came up against the San Antonio Spurs. Westbrook had his best game so far, with 33 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists. He was more aggressive on penetrations, finished whenever he could or finding opened shooters easily. He found on Davis his perfect ally to succeed from the paint: 125-121 for the Lakers.
It was turn to visit Oklahoma Thunder and the game couldn’t have started off better: 41-19 in the first quarter. However, the excess of confidence plus the struggle with triples took the win away from them, as the Thunder managed to complete a 26 points comeback. Westbrook earned a triple-double (20 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists), but he also ended with 10 turnovers and was sent off the game. Tough defeat on the road that creates new doubts in the team.
Many problems to solve in a regular season that can bee too long. Injuries are an obstacle once again and Vogel has a lot to adjust if they want to be reliable defensively to hide their struggle from the three point line and be competitive in the Playoffs. For his part, Russell Westbrook must find regularity and prove that he can be important in a team that battles for the ring. Only time will prove if the Lakers have made the right choice.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: Lakers website.
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