When Russell Westbrook was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, his smile was brighter than ever.
The native Los Angeleno notoriously labeled a lone gun in a team-centric sport would be matched with some of the best basketball players in the world. Carmelo Anthony, Anthony Davis, Rajon Rondo, and “The King” himself, LeBron James.
“It’s definitely on me. Easy fix though. Just timing." Russell Westbrook on the turnovers in the last two preseason games. pic.twitter.com/ERpJE1aR3U
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) October 11, 2021
The thought of Westbrook suited in that purple and gold felt like a cheat code, although detractors saw it as a festival of ball hoggery. Unfortunately, the Lakers’ preseason has been a opening stanza of disappointment mainly laid at the feet of Westbrook himself.
On Sunday night, the Lakers’ 123-94 loss to the Phoenix Suns was more of the same for the 0-4 start for the California super team. At one point the Lakers trailed by 31 points.
Westbrook finished with nine turnovers and only eight points while shooting 3-for-12 from the field.
Russell Westbrook in 2 preseason games:
4-19 FG pic.twitter.com/XFdOO67fGs
— StatMuse (@statmuse) October 11, 2021
In addition, the Lakers were outscored by 14 in the 26 minutes he was on the court. In his preseason debut on Friday, Westbrook had seven turnovers while shooting 1-for-7 from the field.
Where Art Thou, Russ?
“The turnover stuff is on me,” Westbrook said. “But good thing they don’t count. So I could turn that b—- over 15 times ain’t nobody going to do nothing about it.
“So you know. Easy fix though. Very easy. Just because timing, just timing. Guys getting used to my speed, my pace, my timing, where I’m at on the floor.”
Ironically, the Suns game was the first time that Anthony Davis and Westbrook played together. Davis finished with 19 points, six assists, and three steals, allowing the Lake show to hit a 13-0 run in the second quarter.
“We want to be good, but we don’t want to skip steps. You can’t rush the process of what we’re trying to do and win championships,” Davis said.
“We know, possibly, there could be struggles to start the season. … But we never want to get out to a slow start; 0-5, 0-6, whatever. We still want to be able to fight through our mistakes while winning games.”
Change Gone Come?
However, the Lakers’ new murderer’s row roster hasn’t all played together yet in the same game, so there is no telling how they collectively can make up for the shortcomings of a few.
Lebron After Watching Russell Westbrook Commit 9 Turnovers.. pic.twitter.com/CZvKj48wVJ
— Ghetto Love Birds 🦅 (@GhettoLoveBirds) October 11, 2021
“I never had one good preseason, I mean personally,” said Westbrook, a nine-time All-Star and former league MVP. “I never really worry about it because it’s preseason.”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel was more direct regarding his expectations of his team.
“We’ve got to get better,” Vogel said. “We haven’t played great. There’s going to be an adjustment period with so many new faces. It’s … we understand that. Hopefully, it doesn’t take too much time to get everybody on the same page and in sync, guys getting legs underneath them and that type of thing, but we’ve still got to be better than we were tonight.”
Thus far during preseason, the Lakers have fallen behind by double-digit numbers in their three previous preseason losses to Phoenix, Brooklyn, and Golden State.
Although it’s only preseason, fans hope it isn’t a precursor to a superstar letdown season.