Westbrook working to get in sync with Lakers

LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – It is with no doubt that Russell Westbrook is a superstar in the NBA and a future Hall of Famer. However, the inefficiencies in his overall game have become more glaring over the past few seasons.

Now a current member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Westbrook is having some struggles with his field goal percentage as well as a very high turnover rate.

“Easy fix,” Westbrook said. “Very easy. Just because of the timing… guys getting used to my speed, my pace, and timing. They’re [turnovers] definitely on me.”

Over the course of two preseason games, Westbrook already has more turnovers than he does points. He has a total of 15 turnovers with only a total of 10 points overall. While it may only be the preseason, Westbrook has a history of turnovers in prior seasons.

After the Lakers dropped a home game to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, the team’s head coach Frank Vogel defended Westbrook’s play.

Oct. 10, 2021. Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook against the Phoenix Suns. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

“He’s trying,” Vogel said. “He is trying hard to distribute and get his teammates involved. New set of teammates, new system, it is gonna take some time, not worried about it.”

In a 111-99 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 12, Westbrook totaled 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. He also had five turnovers in the game.

After the game, Westbrook said keeping the line of communication open between himself and his teammates is essential to the team’s success moving forward.

“All of it’s important,” Westbrook said. “It’s not just having good communicators. We have to understand what I don’t like, what Bron doesn’t like, what AD doesn’t like and vice versa so that we’re all comfortable and we can figure it out.”

In the Lakers’ 123-94 loss to Phoenix, Westbrook, obviously trying to get in sync with his new running buddies, made only 3 of 12 shots from the floor for eight points. He finished his 25-minute plus stint with nine turnovers.

Westbrook didn’t fret over his sub-par outing.

Oc. 10, 2021. Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook. Photo credit: MArk Hammond/News4usonline

“Yeah man, I’ve never had one good preseason, me personally, so I never really worry about it just because it’s preseason and we’re figuring it out,” remarked Westbrook. “A lot of guys haven’t played a game probably since April maybe. So, we haven’t played with each other yet, been on the floor with each other so it’s still a learning curve and we’re going to find ways to figure it out.”

During the preseason, games and a loss don’t mean anything, but the high rate of turnovers from Westbrook should be cause for concern. 

Over the past three seasons, Westbrook has averaged four and a half turnovers a game. This season, Westbrook will be playing with Anthony Davis and Lebron James.

James is one of the more efficient players in the NBA. The alarm bells in regards to the number of turnovers rate will persist into the regular season. After the Phoneix loss, Vogel addressed the team’s turnover problem.

“Yeah it’s just a lot of guys trying to integrate into the new system, new teammates,” Vogel said. “A lot of miscues in pass and catch situations, lobs, et cetera. In situations a little too careless with the basketball. You see a lot of new vets in the preseason but it doesn’t get any better.”

Through the course of these first few preseason games, turnovers are not the only thing that has been noticeable about Westbrook’s play. When Westbrook is on the floor, after every rebound or turnover, he is constantly pushing the pace for the Lakers.

This was something that was lacking for the Lakers last season. Westbrook’s explosion up and down the court cannot be duplicated and it’s easy why the Lakers traded for the Southern California native. In observation of how pushes the basketball relentlessly, it’s obvious to the naked eye that Westbrook has three gears: fast, faster, and fastest.

The level of speed that Westbrook plays at will take some time to adjust to, he said.

“We’re trying to figure it out, we haven’t played together before so we’re still adjusting speed and things, it’s preseason,” Westbrook said after the Phoenix game. “I mean listen, we got time. Like I said, it ’s not even the start of the season yet so this doesn’t even count so there is no need, or even thinking about if we should be seeing anything.”

Another area of concern is Westbrook’s shooting from the field. Against Golden State, Westbrook converted just 3 of his 9 field goal attempts. He went one for three in 3-point shooting. Being considered a pure shooter is not something that has followed Westbrook.

His greatness comes from his ability to make explosive plays and from his dominating physicality as a playmaker. Playing alongside James, Davis and Carmelo Anthony might help Westbrook improve as a shooter.

Westbrook is playing with James who is accustomed to shooters around him, and that is not Westbrook. Other teams that Westbrook has played with have gotten started off to slow starts due to building team chemistry with the style of Westbrook.

Westbrook’s skill set is unique. It is going to take a while to get used. The road might be bumpy for a while, but eventually, Westbrook and the Lakers will figure it out if they plan on winning a title.

“It’s going to take some time,” James said. “We have guys coming into a brand-new system and we’re literally a couple weeks into the season. From how our defensive schemes are, to what our new offensive scheme is, it’s going to take some time to figure it out. We have a veteran ball club, we have a lot of strong guys, but it definitely takes time, and understanding the trust that the system put in place for us will be beneficial down the road.”