On Tuesday, former Houston Rockets star point guard Russell Westbrook had his introductory press conference with the Los Angeles Lakers, as the trade that sent him from the Washington Wizards to the Lake Show was recently made official late last week. Westbrook was coming off of a 2020-21 campaign in which he averaged a league-leading 11.7 assists, in addition to 11.5 rebounds, which ranked sixth in the league and first among all guards.
Westbrook also averaged 22.2 points, marking the fourth time in his career that he averaged a triple-double. Heading into 2020-21, Westbrook had just completed his best all-around statistical season with the Houston Rockets, posting averages of 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7 assists, while making a career-best 47.2% of his shot attempts.
In addition, Westbrook had an effective field goal percentage of 49.3% with the Rockets, which was also a career-best. But Westbrook's stint with the Rockets was brief, as both he and James Harden requested trades from the franchise after the Rockets were unable to make it past the Western Conference Semifinals.
Famed analyst cites Russell Westbrook's Houston Rockets' stint as cause for concern for Lakers
Many have been questioning the move by the Lakers to add Westbrook, such as renowned analyst Howard Beck, who cited Westbrook's Rockets' stint ae proof of why the Lakers could be making a mistake, on Sirius XM's Free Agency Special.
"I didn't like it when the Rockets went and got Westbrook. I didn't think it was a good fit, and low and behold, he was on a different team one year later.
I didn't like this for the Lakers either."
With the Lakers having been eliminated in the first round of the 2021 playoffs, they were surely going to add a marquee talent to their roster, and the talk was that they were seeking to add a point guard. Many thought that former Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul was going to be an option, due to his close relationship with LeBron James and the fact that Paul's family has been located in the Los Angeles area.
But the Lakers didn't have the cap space to offer Paul the type of deal that he landed in free agency, which was a four-year deal worth $120 million. The Lakers used their remaining cap space to surround Westbrook with shooters, adding Wayne Ellington, who made 42.2% of his threes last season, Kent Bazemore, who made 40.8% of his threes last season, and former Houston Rockets forwards Carmelo Anthony (40.9% from 3 in 2020-21) and Trevor Ariza (35% from deep last season).
The challenge for Lakers coach Frank Vogel will be running a system that allows both Westbrook and James to co-exist, as Westbrook had the third-most touches in the entire league with 96.6 touches, while James had the seventh-most touches with 87.1 touches per game and Anthony Davis ranked among the top-20 in forwards.
It's safe to say that the Lakers will have many questioning the move, and the only way to silence the critics will be to win a title in 2021-22.