A few years ago, Russell Westbrook was one of the best players in the league. His game was enjoyable to watch, and as a result, he gained a lot of fans. But in his one season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Russ has arguably lost more fans than he has gained in the past few years.
The reason for that is the fact that Brodie had a very disappointing 2021-22 NBA season. While most of the NBA community seems to be aware of this, Russ isn't ready to admit it.
If he stays with the Lakers for the 2022-23 NBA season, the only way it will be beneficial to the Lakers would be if he accepts a bench role. He could lead the second unit of the Lakers and have the ball in his hand. After all, that's where he seems to be at his best.
Speaking of last season, during his exit interview of the season, it felt like he never accepted his shortcoming. If anything, he threw everyone around him under the bus. NBA insider Jovan Buha pointed that out in a recent episode of The Athletic NBA Show.
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"It was incredibly cringe-worthy because he was saying on one hand like, 'Oh, I didn't have the season I wanted, but I take accountability.' But then (in) the entire press conference, he threw everybody else under the bus. He threw Frank Vogel, he threw the entire Lakers. He's like, 'I never felt welcomed from day one here.' He even threw LeBron and AD under the bus. ... He unloaded the clip in the exit interview."
One might wonder if this means that the relationship between Russ and the Lakers is simply over. Well, when Buha was asked about the same, he said there was still a way to salvage this relationship, but it would need Russ to make some sacrifices.
"I think it would require Russ having self-awareness and changing his game in a way we have never seen before. In that hypothetical scenario, yes. Maybe compromises like bringing him off the bench."
Even before Buha mentioned it, most were already aware that the only way that Russ could save his relationship with the Lakers was to change the way that he plays the game.
But due to the fact that he has been playing the same style of basketball for more than a decade, it is easier said than done. If Westbrook can somehow manage that, it will inject the Lakers with new power.