The LA Lakers have had a terrible start to the season and many were calling for Russell Westbrook to be traded weeks before the season. Over the past few weeks, Westbrook and the Lakers have turned their season around. LeBron James and the Lakers were 2-10 a month ago and now the team has an 11-15 record. However, they are still last in the Pacific Division and twelfth in the Western Conference. Even with his struggles this season, Westbrook has been praised for embracing a bench role for LA.
Former NBA head coach Stan Van Gundy and NBA champion Dwyane Wade like what they see from Westbrook in his new role with the team. He has played in 25 of the Lakers’ 26 games this season, making just three starts.
NBA betting sites have Russell Westbrook the favorite to win the Sixth Man of the Year at (+175).
Russell Westbrook with the NO-LOOK dime for Anthony Davis 👀pic.twitter.com/Fksb8TGMVD
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) December 12, 2022
Former NBA coaches and players praise Russell Westbrook for taking on a bench role
For the 2022-23 season, Westbrook is averaging (14.4) points, (5.6) rebounds, (7.6) assists and (1.0) steals per game. He leads the team in assists per game. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Dwyane Wade and Stan Van Gundy had extremely positive things to say about the nine-time All-Star.
“Okay, LeBron, to not think too much all the time. OK, I have to get the ball to AD. Okay, I have to shoot this. Okay, I don’t want to shoot. He doesn’t have to think too much. Russ has put himself in a much better position now coming off the bench. “- Dwayne Wade
“Coming off the bench playing 20 to 25 minutes a game… [Russ] He made a big decision to extend his career. – Dwayne Wade
Westbrook can play freely off the bench when he doesn’t have to worry about getting the best player on the court. He is often the best player on the court when playing against the second division. The 2016-17 NBA MVP is more than capable of taking over a game and leading the team while on the floor. That’s why Westbrook’s ability to come off the bench is so valuable to the Lakers.
Stan Van Gundy, Dwyane Wade’s head coach from 2003-2005, also had some positive things to say about Westbrook.
“I’m surprised he’s trying to be more playful, paint and make plays for other people,”… he’s not making snide comments to the media. I see acceptance from someone who is trying to make it work. – Stan Van Gundy
Clearly, Lakers head coach Darwin Hamm made the right decision to bring Westbrook off the bench. He helped turn the Lakers’ season around in some ways.