It’s no secret that one of the most polarizing players in the NBA today is Russell Westbrook. He’s a former MVP, and arguably the most scrutinized player in the league. His over-the-top character and emotional on and off-court responses put him in the limelight night in and night out. He was seen as the Robin to Kevin Durant’s Batman, and when he was given the keys to OKC’s offense, Westbrook was breaking records left and right. He was averaging a triple-double for a season two seasons ago and has done so three times in his career. He might not be the same MVP-caliber player, however, he is still capable of making an impact on a winning team, even if it’s not with the Lakers Roster.
Not a Fit for Lakers Roster
Even with a resurgence off the bench, Westbrook’s value might be wasted in the City of Angels. As a starter in the 2022 season, Westbrook averaged 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists. As a reserve, he’s averaging 15.0 points, 8.0 assists, and 6.1 rebounds per game. A significant jump for a former all-star being used off the bench. Although the Lakers Roster has winning more games, this isn’t exactly attributed directly to Westbrook.
Shooting has always been a weakness for Westbrook, and his field goal percentage this season is at 40% according to Statmuse. According to Basketball Reference, Westbrook’s effective field goal percentage is 43.9% this season, which is down from his career average of 46.7%. In addition, the average effective field goal percentage in the NBA for the 2022 season is 57.2%, so Westbrook is well below the average. He is averaging a +/- of -51 when he’s on the court for the Lakers this season, so even as a playmaker and rebounder off the bench, he’s doing his team more harm than good.
Value Outside of Lakers Roster
Westbrook has shown that he can still add value to a team, however, the Westbrook-Davis-James Big Three should be coming to an end. With Anthony Davis balling out as of late, currently averaging 27.4 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game including a 55-point outburst against the Wizards, the Lakers’ future may be in good hands. That is if his latest injury doesn’t put him on the shelf longer than the proposed month. LeBron James is LeBron James, and even if he is due for a decline very soon since he’s at his age 37 campaign, you don’t trade LeBron James.
If the Lakers Roster wants to compete for a championship, it’s going to take more than an old King and a healthy Davis. The Lakers squad that won the 2020 championship is no more, and a new roster has taken shape. With fewer shooters and defense, the Lakers will need an overhaul in order to be championship contenders for the small window that James has to be competitive.
Lakers Roster Should Add Shooters, Trade Westbrook to Dallas
Whether Westbrook starts or comes off the bench, it’s clear his playmaking and scoring ability, even in bursts, would impact a championship contender in the Mavericks. Superstar guard Luka Doncic desperately needs help if he wants to compete for a championship. Even as a former all-star, Westbrook adds enough firepower to help ease Doncic’s playmaking and scoring load and give him more opportunities to play off the ball.
In this hypothetical trade, the Mavericks give up three different shot creators and shooters, which the Mavericks desperately need. However, this gives young guard Josh Green a chance to flourish in a new situation, and they will still have sharpshooting big man Maxi Kleber. The Mavericks recently signed guard Kemba Walker, however, he is at the tail end of his career. If he can muster up even a fraction of his former all-star abilities, he could easily be a viable backup and scoring punch off the bench.
The Lakers add Reggie Bullock and Davis Bertans, both sharpshooters, to their bench in this trade. Dinwiddie most likely slots into the starting lineup, as he is seeing a resurgence on the Mavericks, averaging 16.6 points in the starting lineup on 46.3% from the field and 41.8% from three, according to Statmuse. Bertans is averaging a scorching hot 44.1% from three after averaging a low of 33.5% last season. Bullock doesn’t have such luck, currently averaging 31.7% from three, however, he is a 38% career shooter from deep, so it may take some adjusting to get back to his sharpshooting ways.
Dallas Mavericks Receive: Russell Westbrook, 2025 1st Round Pick
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Spencer Dinwiddie, Davis Bertans, and Reggie Bullock
Dallas Mavericks Potential Starting Lineup: PG Russell Westbrook, SG Luka Doncic, SF Dorian Finney-Smith, PF Maxi Kleber, C Dwight Powell
Los Angeles Lakers Potential Starting Lineup: PG Spencer Dinwiddie, SG Patrick Beverly, SF Lonnie Walker IV, PF LeBron James, C Anthony Davis
LaVine heads back West, Russ heads East to the Windy City
Zach LaVine has been in trade rumors since a disappointing Bulls run in 2021. With reports now out saying that LaVine and the Bulls aren’t exactly seeing eye-to-eye, now would be the perfect time to pounce on the star shooting guard. Chicago has been without point guard Lonzo Ball for 335 days. Although not all of those days had games, it’s still a long time to be without a starting point guard.
Combo forward DeMar DeRozan has been a stronger playmaker since he played in San Antonio and has done his best to mitigate the offense in Ball’s absence. However, the team sits at 11th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 12-18. The team sits at 21st overall in offensive rating, and even with DeRozan and LaVine averaging at least 21+ points per game, there just isn’t enough points coming through the team’s offense.
Enter, Russell Westbrook. Slotting in as a starter or reserve, his infectious energy could have some gravity and give DeRozan more room to operate. Vucevic hasn’t been the same all-star since arriving in Chicago, however Westbrook could help playmake for him to be a more successful post player.
In this scenario, the Lakers would also be able to pull Coby White out of Chicago, a player who has taken a backseat to the players on his team and needs a new situation. White would most likely still come off the bench, however the Lakers could give White a better opportunity to develop by giving him more shot opportunities.
LaVine isn’t eligible to be traded until January 15th due to his contract, however the Lakers should be the first ones to call once the clock strikes midnight to see what it would take to bring the west-coast-born guard back to the west.
Chicago Bulls Receive : Russell Westbrook
Los Angeles Lakers Receive : Zach LaVine, Coby White
Potential Chicago Bulls Starting Lineup: PG Russell Westbrook, SG Alex Caruso, SF DeMar Derozan, PF Patrick Williams, C Nikola Vucevic
Potential Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup: PG Patrick Beverly, SG Zach LaVine, SF Lonnie Walker IV, PF LeBron James, C Anthony Davis
Westbrook Learns from Coach Popp
If any coach can help Westbrook, it’s Coach Poppovich. Here’s a story that may sound familiar. A star guard got traded to San Antonio and was known as a bad shooter and then later became a better playmaker and player in general. That player was DeMar Derozan, who is now playing between an all-star and MVP darkhorse level. Westbrook may not follow a similar path, however it could be a way to help him prolong his career.
The Lakers would target the Spurs as a trade partner for one word : shooting. With the potential to land Doug McDermott, Josh Richardson, and Devin Vassell, the Lakers would add players shooting 43.2%, 36.8% and 41.2% from three point range respectively. The Lakers were already thought to be in the mix for Josh Richardson, and the hot shooting from McDermott and Vassell is definitely sustainable. Regardless of who starts or comes off the bench from this trade, the Lakers add a ton of necessary shooting to a team that needs it.
San Antonio Spurs Receive: Russell Westbrook, 2025 1st Round Pick
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Doug McDermott, Josh Richardson, Devin Vassell
Potential San Antonio Spurs Starting Lineup: PG Russell Westbrook, SG Romeo Langford, SF Keldon Johnson, PF Keita Bates-Diop, C Jakob Poeltl
Potential Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup: PG Patrick Beverly, SG Devin Vassell, SF Doug McDermott, PF LeBron James, C Anthony Davis
Let us know your thoughts on the Lakers Roster in the comments below! Furthermore, if Westbrook leaves the Lakers Roster, where do you want to see him play next?
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images