Russell Westbrook has been a heavily scrutinized player this season, and many people have criticized his ball-dominant playstyle. Westbrook has been inconsistent this year for the Los Angeles Lakers, although he did have a fairly nice stretch of games to finish the season.
There were times this season when Russell Westbrook ended up getting benched by coach Frank Vogel for his poor performances. Russell Westbrook even took some shots at the coach, claiming that it's a "difficult process" to "create some rhythm and some consistency" when one doesn't know when they're coming in or out of the game.
“You never know when you’re coming in, you never know when you’re coming out. You never know when you’re playing, you never know... a bunch of things. And I’m speaking for me personally, so it’s a difficult process to be able to figure out and create some rhythm and some consistency where we can actually see what we’re able to do as a team, but those decisions are made by him and his coaching staff, and you’ve got to live with it and move on... No. He hasn’t. But I don’t need him to be clear. He makes whatever decision he makes, and that’s up to him. My job as a professional is to come to work, be in a positive mindset, put my head down and do my work to the best of my ability and be there to encourage my teammates. That’s it.”
A recent report by Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times revealed that Russell Westbrook "never respected" Frank Vogel, starting "from Day 1" of his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers. It seems as though the source of conflict was Frank Vogel saying "anybody who gets the rebound can bring it up the court", with Russell Westbrook thinking he should be the one to bring the ball up, claiming that he's "the point guard", and telling everyone to "get out the way".
Problems arose for the Lakers behind closed doors during training camp, with team staff members seeing their worst fears realized before the team played a game.
“Russ [Westbrook) never respected Frank [Vogel] from Day 1,” said one Lakers staff member with knowledge of the situation. “The moment Frank said anybody who gets the rebound can bring it up the court, which is just how the NBA is played these days, Russ was like, ‘Naw, I’m the point guard. Give the ball to me. Everybody run. Frank was like, ‘No, we have Talen [Horton-Tucker)] We have Austin [Reaves]. We have Malik. We have LeBron. We have AD. They can all bring the ball up.’ He was like, ‘Nope, I’m the point guard. Give me that s—. Everybody get out the way.’
“From that point on, in training camp, it was a wrap, ‘cause now Russ is a fish out of water. He doesn’t know what to do. That’s how that started.”
Russell Westbrook is a player that is generally used to having possession of the ball a lot, and it makes sense that he'd want to bring the ball up as a point guard. However, it is clear that he didn't want to adapt to the way that Frank Vogel wanted to play the game.
Hopefully, the Los Angeles Lakers are able to figure out their issues prior to the start of next season. The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to part ways with Frank Vogel this offseason, and perhaps a new coach will be able to get the best out of Russell Westbrook.