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Why Russell Westbrook As a Third Option May Not Work



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 1 month ago '15        #1
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Top Goon  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x178
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Why Russell Westbrook As a Third Option May Not Work
 

 
Depending on how you view the race for the 2022 NBA crown, a couple of key questions are at the top of the agenda. Can the Nets stay healthy this time around? Does Milwaukee have staying power, or was the Bucks’ title more the result of other teams’ injury misfortune?

In that same vein, there’s a huge question facing the Lakers that could define the league this coming season: How will Russell Westbrook—to this point always a first or second star—fare as a third option?

Clearly Los Angeles felt the star guard was its missing piece, not only surrendering rotation wings Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma in a trade for him, but also losing the ability to add what could have been a key, floor-spacing piece in Sacramento’s Buddy Hield—someone who, in theory, would have fit the LeBron James– and Anthony Davis–led club almost perfectly.

But in the eyes of Rob Pelinka, the end justifies the means. The Lakers have the look of a terrifying top three, with an all-time great leading the way, a big man who can do nearly everything on either end when healthy, and a Sonic the Hedgehog type who logs triple doubles the way arcade-goers notch high scores.

At the same time, when parsing the question of Westbrook’s role a bit more closely, the question of fit becomes more challenging. Even after more than a decade of watching star players team up together, we often forget that it’s not as easy as merely rolling out the most talented players without regard to skill set. A player who’s thrived in a role as an alpha isn’t automatically a great second option. And while it’s easy to a*sume that becoming a third option would be far easier than being a No. 1 or No. 2, that may not actually be the case for someone like the 32-year-old Westbrook.

Yes, No. 3 options often get to face less talented defenders, which works in their favor.

But when you take stock of players like Ray Allen and Chris Bosh—two of the more successful third stars in recent memory—part of why they worked so well was their ability to punish defenses that left them open after throwing too much attention at the first two stars. Not only were they great jump-shooters (Bosh more so from midrange, while Allen could spot up from a state over), but they were also slippery when playing off the ball, hunting out open spaces to lose defenders who watched the ball for too long.

By contrast, Westbrook makes defenses pay much less often for standing still. Synergy Sports has him logging just 29.4 off-ball cuts to the basket per season over the past five years, even though those plays have been his most efficient form of offense over that span. (In 2020–21, Westbrook scored a whopping 65.2% of the time on off-ball cuts—a number that’s in line with his scoring rate off cuts since 2016.)

The other thing setting him apart from players like Allen or Bosh is the obvious: He can’t really shoot from outside the free-throw line. So he can’t really punish defenses with his jumper. As it stands, teams generally dare him to shoot, knowing it isn’t his strong suit.

Since the beginning of the 2016–17 season, Westbrook has hit just 30.8% of his triples—the worst rate of any player who’s launched at least 1,500 attempts over that five-season span, according to Basketball Reference’s Stathead page. This is where the comparisons to someone like Rajon Rondo’s inability to shoot fall flat. Aside from the fact that Rondo has become a league-average perimeter shooter in recent years, he also won’t take an abundance of shots that lessen his team’s chances of winning.

So that’s something to consider: Is Westbrook enough of an offensive weapon as a third option when he doesn’t possess the ball? (And, quite frankly, will it be to Los Angeles’s benefit in the moments where Westbrook has possession, since that means that James won’t have the ball?) How, if at all, does Westbrook make overextended defenses pay when they leave him wide open at the three-point line? Will there be enough spacing within the team’s lineups to allow him the room to get to the basket consistently?

Over time, we’ll surely get answers to these questions. But we already know the reactions will be swift and polarizing, as they always are with Westbrook. It wouldn’t be surprising if he starts slowly as he gets adjusted. In each of the past five seasons, Westbrook has shot far more efficiently after the All-Star break than he has leading up to it, with perhaps the most stark improvement taking place during this past year.

It’s hard to imagine Westbrook playing any harder or more aggressively than he already does (at least on offense), but if ever there were a time where he might, it’d be in Los Angeles, where he’s from. And if ever there were a teammate who would bring out a calmer, more under-control version of Westbrook—other than Kevin Durant, Paul George, James Harden or Bradley Beal—it’d probably be a late-career James, who can shoulder a solid amount of the ballhandling weight on offense.

Truth be told, much of what needs to be seen with this team will be on the other end of the floor. When healthy, the Lakers already had more than enough offense to win. (Perhaps the Westbrook acquisition was aimed at piecing together a sort of Brooklyn situation, to give Los Angeles more margin for error, even if one star goes down?) Much of that stemmed from the club’s having a top-ranked defense in 2021 (and the No. 3 defense in 2020). But now the group looks vastly different—and at least slightly worse, if not more—on the wings without Alex Caruso, Dennis Schröder, Caldwell-Pope or Kuzma. Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn, Kent Bazemore, Trevor Ariza, Malik Monk and Carmelo Anthony will replace them.

Expect the debate about whether Westbrook was the right piece for the Lakers to continue. The answer to whether he’ll fit the bill likely hinges on how he performs as the team’s third offensive option.
visit this link https://www.si.com/nba/20 .. -third-option?
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52 comments
 

 1 month ago '10        #2
Nautilus O  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x3
Props total: 81866 81 K  Slaps total: 18061 18 K
Did y’all watch Lebron in Miami or what

This ain’t his first rodeo
+19   

 1 month ago '17        #3
Speedy ClapSon 
Props total: 17485 17 K  Slaps total: 5493 5 K
He was the 3rd option in the 4th quarter when OKC went to the finals
They don't have to rely on his decision making in crunch time
-4   

 1 month ago '13        #4
THEDONN  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x5
Props total: 97303 97 K  Slaps total: 39645 39 K
WHich is why he will be the #1 option now

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 1 month ago '09        #5
MakaveliToDon91  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x9
Props total: 46811 46 K  Slaps total: 13008 13 K

 1 month ago '09        #6
faceoffizhere 
Props total: 13940 13 K  Slaps total: 3640 3 K
Just wait on it Lebron always does better when he has another playmaker and they also have enough shooters. The knock is always "he turns so and so to a spot up shooter" now they want Westbrook to become a spot up shooter smh
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 1 month ago '15        #7
Preacher Mane  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x3
Props total: 62053 62 K  Slaps total: 3959 3 K
Short answer:

Russ will never in his life believe or act like a 3rd option.
+12   

 1 month ago '09        #8
That Guy Fly 
Props total: 45623 45 K  Slaps total: 13676 13 K
May not? That sh*t wont work. Do we really believe Russ is willing to be just a facilitator and occasional scorer? Do we believe Nunn, Melo, Ariza and all these players are willing to have several nights of 15 minutes or less and only 5 shot attempts?

Hell no!!!
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 1 month ago '09        #9
GREAT1NE  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
Props total: 12949 12 K  Slaps total: 1844 1 K
Lebron and AD gonna miss games and load manage, and Lebron isn’t at a point where he can play 40 minutes a night. We’ve seen over the years what this team looks like when Lebrons out, and last season when ADs out. Westbrook is gonna help carry the load during the regular season at least.
+16   

 1 month ago '09        #10
That Guy Fly 
Props total: 45623 45 K  Slaps total: 13676 13 K
Also, this team got much worse defensively
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 1 month ago '17        #11
YoungOG 
Props total: 23803 23 K  Slaps total: 5425 5 K
 Speedy ClapSon said
He was the 3rd option in the 4th quarter when OKC went to the finals
They don't have to rely on his decision making in crunch time
Harden was definitely the point guard
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 1 month ago '17        #12
YoungOG 
Props total: 23803 23 K  Slaps total: 5425 5 K
 That Guy Fly said
Also, this team got much worse defensively
Also the they not much worst defensively than the team down the hall,and got way more scoring and shot makers

 1 month ago '09        #13
dadon85 
Props total: 47916 47 K  Slaps total: 4892 4 K
As long as he's making plays, taking smart shots, playing defense. I see it working

 1 month ago '10        #14
#JewLife 
Props total: 18455 18 K  Slaps total: 4992 4 K
He’s never truly been the third option. This is what he’s needed all along… two vets to keep him in check.
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 1 month ago '09        #15
MakaveliToDon91  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x9
Props total: 46811 46 K  Slaps total: 13008 13 K
 That Guy Fly said
May not? That sh*t wont work. Do we really believe Russ is willing to be just a facilitator and occasional scorer?
Yes

 1 month ago '16        #16
Soo Special OG  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
Props total: 39346 39 K  Slaps total: 7333 7 K
westbrook had minus 87 last year. he's literally been going down and down the last 4 seasons

 1 month ago '14        #17
215Philly  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x9
Props total: 81270 81 K  Slaps total: 27190 27 K
Ad is the third option
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 1 month ago '21        #18
King856 
Props total: 10166 10 K  Slaps total: 4163 4 K
 #JewLife said
He’s never truly been the third option. This is what he’s needed all along… two vets to keep him in check.
at you thinking Anthony Davis bi*ch a*s will keep Russell Westbrook in check

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 1 month ago '10        #19
#JewLife 
Props total: 18455 18 K  Slaps total: 4992 4 K
 King856 said
at you thinking Anthony Davis bi*ch a*s will keep Russell Westbrook in check

Bron best SF all time
Davis top 5 PF all time

Both got rings. If he can’t take a backseat to them then he just solidified himself as the most toxic superstar in nba history
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 1 month ago '17        #20
Speedy ClapSon 
Props total: 17485 17 K  Slaps total: 5493 5 K
 YoungOG said
Harden was definitely the point guard
Harden was also the 2nd option in the 4th
+1   

Top 10 most propped recently  1 month ago '14        #21
Kyu  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x28
Props total: 204972 204 K  Slaps total: 25021 25 K
Didn’t read lol

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 1 month ago '07        #22
Cartel-Clipz 
Props total: 81839 81 K  Slaps total: 4936 4 K
I feel like he deferred somewhat to Harden during his season in Houston. I think it's possible. He's definitely gonna break out his usual hero ball sh*t from time to time though. Russ is Russ.
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 1 month ago '06        #23
bigkilla  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
Props total: 34256 34 K  Slaps total: 4813 4 K
 Cartel-Clipz said
I feel like he deferred somewhat to Harden during his season in Houston. I think it's possible. He's definitely gonna break out his usual hero ball sh*t from time to time though. Russ is Russ.
The thing is that was him as a 2nd option.. imagine pushing him further down as the 3rd option.. unless they push AD down as the 3rd option but I feel like AD would be less effective than Russ as the 3rd than Russ would be as the 3rd.

 1 month ago '15        #24
POPQUiZ  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
Props total: 11876 11 K  Slaps total: 1698 1 K
Can't wait for the LakeShow to begin, we're about to see Maimi 2012 2013 on speed

See you in the playoffs

 1 month ago '21        #25
Linas Kleiza 
Props total: 3236 3 K  Slaps total: 1913 1 K
Russell has yet to prove that he's willing to make sacrifices to win. He's more valuable averaging 15/7/7 with all of those points coming from driving to the basket than averaging 20//10/10 while chucking up bad shots and turning the ball over trying to get triple doubles.
+2   



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