The Lakers Made a Mistake Trading for Russell Westbrook Instead of Signing Derrick Rose: ‘Derrick Is Aging Better’
The Los Angeles Lakers made a blockbuster move in the offseason by acquiring Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards. The triple-double machine requested a trade from the Wizards and was interested in playing for the Lakers since he grew up in California and has a close relationship with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
With LeBron, Davis, and Westbrook leading the way, the Lakers were projected to be one of the best teams in the NBA this season. However, they enter their Nov. 23 matchup against the New York Knicks with a record of 9-9, putting them in ninth place in the Western Conference standings.
Westbrook has been a turnover machine and an inefficient shooter with the Lakers, and it’s becoming more evident that LA made a mistake trading for him instead of signing Derrick Rose in free agency.
NBA exec on Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose: “Derrick is aging better”
Rose and Westbrook are arguably two of the most athletic players in NBA history. They both have won an MVP Award and played above the rim before suffering multiple knee surgeries. The point guards are still extremely quick, but one plays under control while the other is erratic.
According to an NBA executive who spoke to Ric Bucher of Fox Sports, Rose has aged better than Westbrook and learned how to dominate games without using his athleticism. The former Chicago Bulls superstar has been an efficient shooter and scorer since the 2018-19 season.
“Derrick is aging better,” the executive said. “He learned to shoot better, and his basketball IQ is higher. But Derrick was always a point guard. Russell was an athlete who played the position.”
When you play with LeBron, you have to be able to knock down perimeter jumpers since he has the ball in his hands a lot and collapses defenses on his post-ups and drives to the rim. Westbrook is a career 30.5% shooter from beyond the arc, while Rose is at 31.5%. However, the latter has dramatically improved his stroke over the years, which is why the Lakers should have signed Rose in free agency instead of trading for Westbrook.
Derrick Rose can hit 3s now; Russell Westbrook is still putrid
For the Knicks this season, Rose is shooting a career-high 41.9% from beyond the arc. He’s also shooting 45.0% from the field while averaging 12.0 points and 3.4 assists in 22.9 minutes per game. The Chicago native would likely be putting up more points per game if he played more minutes. After all, Rose averaged 19.4 points and 5.0 assists while shooting 47.6% overall and 47.1% from 3-point land while playing 35.0 minutes a night in the 2021 playoffs.
Westbrook is shooting a woeful 28.8% from beyond the arc for the Lakers. He’s also averaging 4.9 turnovers. Sure, the future Hall of Famer is putting up 19.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 8.7 assists, but he doesn’t play a winning style of basketball since he doesn’t know how to slow down and take what the defense gives him.
Rose makes better decisions in pick-and-roll settings than Westbrook, who is second in the NBA in turnovers (88). While the executive who spoke to Bucher is a fan of the Brodie, he doesn’t think the Lakers guard can transform his game as Rose has.
“I respect the guy a lot, and he’s a good dude, but it’s too late now,” the executive said. “After being a league MVP and averaging triple-doubles, I can’t see him changing. That ship sailed a long time ago.”
When the Lakers and Knicks meet at Madison Square Garden, the purple and gold will get a first-hand look at why they dropped the ball on Rose, who was an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and may have signed with Los Angeles since he’s friends with Davis and played with LeBron for a little bit on the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017-18.
Knicks guard impacts winning; Lakers guard doesn’t
Rose is 15th in the NBA in plus-minus this season. He has a plus-minus rating of +113. Meanwhile, Westbrook has a plus-minus of -71. The Lakers would undoubtedly be a better team with Rose over Westbrook since the former can space the floor for LeBron and Davis now and doesn’t turn the ball over at a high rate.
Rose’s per 36 minutes numbers are 18.8 points and 5.3 assists per game. He also has a player efficiency rating of 18.9. As for Westbrook, his PER is only 15.5, and he has seven games this season where he’s turned the ball over five times or more.
Maybe Westbrook will turn his play around as the season moves along, and the Lakers will get on track. However, history tells us that he won’t magically become efficient and less out of control overnight, which doesn’t bode well for the Lakers’ title hopes.