Los Angeles Lakers star point guard Russell Westbrook is regarded as one of the game’s most dynamic talents. Westbrook’s all-around playing style has become synonymous with the triple-double stat line. However, it’s also come with a particular reputation that his peer Karl-Anthony Towns shed light on while fueling adding to another lingering stigma.
Russell Westbrook’s NBA career
Westbrook entered the NBA as a promising prospect.
The UCLA product quickly found success behind his point guard role to become one of the game’s most dynamic playmakers. Westbrook developed into an elite talent behind his all-around playing style and unrelenting effort. It’s led him to garner a regular-season MVP award, receive nine All-Star selections and nine All-NBA Team nods (two First Team, seven Second Team, and two Third Team).
Westbrook’s all-around approach pushed him to surpass Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson as the all-time leader in triple-doubles. His place in the record books has come with a stigma that another of his peers brought to the limelight again.
Karl-Anthony Towns underlines a lingering stigma Russell Westbrook can’t shake
Westbrook’s move to the top of the list as the all-time leader in triple-doubles has come with much praise coupled with the notion that he prioritizes his statistics.
The stigma has stuck with him, leading many to believe he’s stat-stuffing to prop himself up further among his peers. During an interview with streamer Adin Ross on Monday, Minnesota Timberwolves star big man Karl-Anthony Towns confirmed the sentiment that Westbrook is chasing numbers while he fueled another perspective concerning the Lakers star point guard.
“He definitely gets stats,” Towns said. “He chases stats. But I think he’s a hell of a player, though. I don’t care what anyone says—you know how hard it is to get a triple-double? You know how hard it is? And he play hella hard. I just think that sometimes he plays too quick. He tries to do too much.”
It isn’t a shot at Westbrook by any means, but Towns’ comments are spot on with the public perception of the former league MVP. The 33-year-old has developed a strong reputation for his playing style anchored by his one-speed approach.
It’s often become detrimental as Westbrook has struggled to slow down his pace according to game-time situations. There is no questioning his effort and commitment to his craft, but his lack of awareness in-game crucial moments where a slower pace is needed has built that reputation.
Westbrook certainly holds tremendous respect from his peers, but it’s the shortcomings in that regard that have pigeon-holed him at times.
Lakers present a unique opportunity for career redefinition
Westbrook may be playing for his fourth team in as many years, but the Lakers present a unique opportunity.
The nine-time All-Star can play a crucial part in lifting Los Angeles to a second NBA title in three years. However, the pathway has become marred by injuries and COVID-19 related issues that have pushed the Lakers below the .500 mark.
Meanwhile, Westbrook has struggled to find any consistent footing due to his fluctuating role. His spot as the third scoring option hasn’t become stabilized as the Lakers’ big three has only played in 15 out of the first 34 games together. That will remain the case as Anthony Davis remains sidelined for a month due to a sprained MCL in his left knee.
With Davis out, Westbrook needs to step up as the second scorer behind LeBron James, who is on an offensive tear with four straight 30-point performances. Los Angeles acquired Westbrook, hoping he can become a highly reliable prominent offensive factor next to James and Davis.
Ultimately, if the Lakers want to contend for an NBA title, the star point guard must fill his crucial role.