Despite a shaky start to the season, Russell Westbrook slowly looks like he is coming into his own. Against the San Antonio Spurs, Westbrook put up 33 points to help the Lakers secure the win. And while his turnovers were an issue against OKC, he was able to notch his first triple-double of the season.
Westbrook's showing will be a big confidence boost for Laker fans going forward. And there is now more optimism about the big three of Russ, James, and Anthony Davis working out.
In fact, Tim Legler made some very apt comments about Westbrook's performances. He believes that the absence of LeBron helped Russ take the game by the horns, and will allow him to be more confident going forward.
But he did mention that the best course of action for the Lakers is starting Russ and LeBron but pulling Westbrook early in the game and having him lead the bench unit while the other starters get their rest.
“It’s like if you owned a Ferrari and you were only allowed to drive it around your gated community… Then, finally you take the Ferrari out on the high way. That’s what it looked like. You talk about a dude being liberated. And unleashed. How good that must have felt for Russell Westbrook. Because he’s listening to all the noise over the first week, talking about him. And I’ve been one of those guys… It says, they can win games now when LeBron sits. That wasn’t a luxury they had last year. Why does that matter? Look at last year, they came out of the 7th hole, you’re not doing that in the West. You’re not winning 3 straight series in the Western Conference. Because in one of those, you would lose the first 2 games. And you’re not coming back and winning 4 out of 5 in that situation. You’re just not, statistically. So now you can win games when LeBron sits. That’s the main benefit of Russell Westbrook right now. Question still is going to be, though: How are you going to allow him to be more of who he is as a player playing with LeBron James. And there’s only one solution; Stagger minutes as much as you possibly can. And I know it’s hard for Russ to accept coming off the bench and be part of that.. The first 6 minutes of the game are garbage anyway. All that is is 10 dudes agreeing ‘hey, can we all get a shot and get a sweat going?’. Because nothing happens, and it’s 6 minutes of wasted time with LeBron. He’s going to be a starter. So I say, get him out of the game sooner, put him back in for LeBron, give him a 6-7 minutes stretch without him. Do that in each half. Right there is 14 minutes.”
LeBron James' absence from the team has really helped Russ find his form. With him being in control of the ball, he has grown in confidence and is putting up better numbers.
While it is only 2 games, his showing in those 2 games will do a world of confidence for Russ going forward. But Westbrook's turnovers have become a big issue, with him putting up a quadruple-hobble (triple-double with 10+ turnovers). In fact, he has had the most quadruple-hobbles in the NBA since 1985 with 6.
The question now remains whether Westbrook can perform like this with LeBron James on the court. Both players need the ball in their hands to make a difference. And while LeBron may be better off playing without the ball as compared to Russ, there are still question marks surrounding their pairing on the court.