Russell Westbrook has been one of the worst performers for the Los Angeles Lakers this season. Westbrook has underperformed for the Lakers since arriving at the franchise and has been a liability on both the offensive and the defensive end of the court.
As a result, Westbrook has found himself at the end of the bench during the closing stages of the game. During the Lakers' game against the Knicks, Westbrook was benched by Lakers' head coach Frank Vogel during overtime, as the Lakers ended up winning the game.
And last night, against the Milwaukee Bucks, Vogel decided to do the same, benching Westbrook toward the end of the game. The Lakers still ended up losing, and Westbrook was clearly unhappy with being left out during crunch time. And in the post-game press conference, Westbrook sounded off on Vogel's decision.
In the post-game press conference, Russell Westbrook spoke about Frank Vogel's decision to bench him.
Westbrook seemed frustrated, noting that he never knew when he would be in and out of the game, and mentioned that the Lakers head coach's decision was affecting him and the rest of the squad to build chemistry with their rotations. Westbrook also noted that Vogel hasn't explained this decision to him but added that Vogel doesn't need to and it is up to him to change his mind.
“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.”
Clearly, Westbrook is frustrated with his role on the team. But given his performances, Vogel had no choice but to bench him. Westbrook is a poor jump shooter and seems to lack his trademark explosiveness this season. Add to that his defensive weakness, Westbrook becomes a liability for the Lakers, especially in late-game situations.
Going forward, Westbrook will have to improve if he wants to avoid being on the bench during the fourth quarter. But as things stand, Frank Vogel has to keep benching him to ensure that he doesn't cost them the game with a poor shooting spell or some costly turnovers.