Russell Westbrook's first two months with the Los Angeles Lakers have been full of ups and downs, with the point guard struggling to find his touch in California following two tumultuous stints in Houston and Washington.
Before the season started, many people doubted Russ would be a good fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Time has proven doubters right, as he's still trying to find his rhythm with the Lakers this campaign.
Everybody is trying to find an explanation for this situation and former Lakers player Gary Payton recently claimed that Russ needs to adjust to his new role on the team, which is obviously hurting his displays on the court.
During a recent conversation on the Draymond Green Show, the defensive specialist broke down why it's been so hard for Russ to succeed at Crypto.com Arena. While explaining that his 2004 Lakers team was different from the 2022 squad, Payton also said:
“I don’t think Russ is playing the way he should be playing,” Payton said. “It’s a new thing to him from going from being the man for so long and then you got to with AD and LeBron. You got to give them the ball. He’s so much dominant on the basketball that’s he’s not doing the things that he should be doing. I think he’s thinking too much.”
Moreover, he said that the Lakers have more things to worry about than Russ' struggles. They don't move the ball enough and rely too much on LeBron James, which can be counterproductive if The King misses a game.
“I just think he thinks too much and they rely on LeBron so much that they are watching him," Payton said. “They don’t play the [Warriors] play. Like with people cut and move and do that. They are watching the basketball too much.”
The Lakers have a lot of work in their hands. Nobody is removing them from the conversation, but if they can turn things around soon, the job will be even harder for the 17-time NBA champions.
Westbrook is showing signs of improvements, as he recorded his first game with zero turnovers in five years in the Lakers' 122-114 win over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night. Hopefully, he can keep this pace and help the Purple and Gold climb positions in a complex Western Conference.