Before the trade deadline, the Los Angeles Clippers reworked their bench. After completing many trades, the squad was able to acquire Bones Hyland, Eric Gordon, and Mason Plumlee for the playoff push.
A NBA Scout Discusses Russell Westbrook’s Potential with the Los Angeles Clippers
The three players have all stepped up to important roles for the team almost immediately. Yet it seems that L.A. wasn’t done shaking things up on the roster.
They want to strengthen their backcourt and have declared their intent to sign Russell Westbrook whenever he becomes available because to the buyout he received from the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz acquired Westbrook from the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of a three-team deal.
Westbrook was given some breathing room by the Jazz to decide his future move. They welcomed him with open arms but couldn’t give him much playing time because they were committed to the youth movement.
His decision has been made, and he’ll be joining the Clippers soon.
Paul George and Nicolas Batum, who were both recruiting the ex-MVP and praising him, will be relieved to hear this news.
Westbrook’s integration with the Clippers, however, will need some effort.
With the addition of D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jarrett Vanderbilt, the Los Angeles Lakers completely remade their team.
Westbrook committed to a contract buyout with the Jazz shortly after being dealt from the Lakers to Utah at the trade deadline. The news that Westbrook will be returning to Los Angeles with a new team, the Clippers, came out on Monday.
With a 33–28 record, the Clippers are nine games down of the first-place Nuggets in the Western Conference. The Clippers own a three-game lead over the 10th-placed Thunder, who are on the cusp of a playoff spot.
The former MVP’s path has been rocky since he was traded from OKC, but he has remained a team asset throughout. It’s been from the bench thus far this season.
To date, he has made 52 appearances with the Lakers, averaging nearly 16 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 7.5 assists. Yet, his shooting efficiency has been inconsistent, much like the rest of his career.
One NBA scout gave NBA Analysis Network some insight into his potential role with a franchise.
“The Clippers needed a guard that can get into the paint and make plays. With how inefficient Westbrook has been this season, I have to see it before I have confidence. … Westbrook does have chemistry with Paul George. Kawhi Leonard can play with anybody since he gets to his spots in mid-range and draws double-teams even when he’s got all shooters around him. If it doesn’t work with the Clippers, I don’t see where it’ll work for Westbrook.”
Even with that familiarity, it’s hard to see Westbrook getting much playing time with George and Kawhi Leonard unless he absolutely stuns Tyronn Lue.
Westbrook’s skillset and versatility make him ideal for the reserve squad, where Lue can create a more potent second unit.
Westbrook, at this point in his career, requires a very particular setting in which to thrive. The Clippers have the personnel to play a compact defense and give him plenty of room to roam on the court, so he can count on getting this type of support from them.
“Westbrook has been at his best in recent years when he’s playing with small ball lineups. The Clippers can throw out different options to spread the floor and to switch defensively. Those are the keys for making it work. He has to improve off-ball when playing in lineups with Zubac. He also needs to accept Leonard and George being the superstars in big moments.”
This might be Westbrook’s last shot to show that he can contribute to a winning team.
He swallowed his pride and moved to the Lakers’ bench where he has been quite productive. His stock will rise in the NBA if he can repeat that feat with the Clippers.