Russell Westbrook's recent performances have stemmed a bit of the vitriol and criticism that has been aimed at him all season. His contribution to the Lakers having a poorer record than they were expected to has led to people growing greatly frustrated with Westbrook and suggesting that he needs to do better. However, while Russ may not often listen to others considering his pedigree as an NBA superstar, it seems there are some pieces of advice he does take into consideration.
Westbrook had an interaction with Shaquille O'Neal during a recent Lakers game, with the two having a brief but animated discussion. And with his form having improved since that game against the Orlando Magic, Russ revealed the advice that Shaq gave him that he described as very helpful (via Silver Screen and Roll).
“It was just talking about changing speeds and different things,” Westbrook said. “When somebody like Shaq is seeing and watching the game, I’m always big on listening to my elders and listening to the ones that were before me.
"Shaq was giving me some good advice about changing speeds at different times coming up the floor, which was very helpful not just in that game but as I watch myself moving forward and trying to continue doing that the rest of the year.”
Westbrook has been universally questioned for his shooting inefficiency in the 4th quarter as well as his carelessness with the ball in crunch time this season. To his credit though, he seems to have taken Shaq's advice well, Westbrook has averaged 22.6 points per game in the 5 games since then. His efficiency has also improved, the former MVP is shooting above 50% from the field in those 5 games.
Sadly, this still hasn't solved the bigger issues with the team, as the Lakers have gone on a 3-game losing streak. Missing LeBron James, Los Angeles has struggled mightily, with Westbrook's improved form failing to make too much of a difference. Ultimately, if they cannot go on a winning streak and achieve some playoff success this season, any improved play by Westbrook is likely to go largely unnoticed.