Mixed signals would be the best way to describe last week’s Los Angeles Lakers acquisition of Russell Westbrook. Not only because of the way things swiftly shifted from a Buddy Hield deal but because of the skepticism that came with the pivot.
Russell Westbrook being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers drew mixed, somewhat unwarranted reviews.
From the moment “Westbrook to the Lakers” bubbled as a draft night possibility, there were two trains of thought. Some pundits crowned them Western Conference Champions. Others lamented the lack of shooting around the new Big Three. With the latter sparking a huge debate.
The simple answer is no, but very few things in the NBA are that simple. Particularly with free agency kicking in.
Are the Los Angeles Lakers Short on Options?
The biggest detriment to roster building will be navigating the salary cap. However, it would be negligent to overlook the fact the league has seen this scenario play out before. James and two gold medalists get together and a countless number of veterans begin to appear. Each one eager to sign up for their shot at a championship ring.
Danny Green, Wayne Ellington, Doug McDermott, J.J. Redick, and Carmelo Anthony. Those are five names that could be called on by Los Angeles to stretch the floor for cheap. Additionally, potential shooters could come via trade if the Lakers find a way to flip their scraps.
The formula has long been created on how to make it happen. This is why a segment of onlookers are confident without seeing how the team will be constructed.
Russell Westbrook Brings Big Three Déjà Vu
The latest iteration of James’ super teams has felt a little scrutiny because Westbrook lacks in his jumper. What detractors will not say is, his shooting statistics are eerily similar to Dwyane Wade’s during the Big Three’s 2010-11 season. The year before they figured out their spacing or had elite shooting.
Such a comparison is blasphemy in some circles, but true.
During that season Wade shot 30.6% from three, 67.1% from the restricted area, 40.9% from the paint, and 40.3% from mid-range. Westbrook on the other hand put up 31.5% from three, 63.9% from the restricted area, 40.7% from the paint, and 38.1% from mid-range last season.
Wade flourished at slashing with that lineup. He only got better as the floor began to open with Chris Bosh operating at the 3-point line. An area Davis already ventures out to play from. It does not hurt that, this season, James also shot almost as good as his peak 2012-13 title year. Except for the dip from mid-range.
Los Angeles Lakers Have Nothing to Worry About
Statistics show that Davis and James are capable of supplying Westbrook with the room to play off the ball. Similar to the way Miami’s Big Three thrived with Wade.
It is way too early to say it will be successful. But with an aggressive Westbrook given a lane and a sniper or two, the Los Angeles could terrorize the league.
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