The Los Angeles Lakers began the offseason with the blockbuster trade to acquire star point guard Russell Westbrook. Since Westbrook’s arrival, concerns cropped up regarding his fit playing alongside LeBron James. The Lakers star forward has finally responded to silence the outside noise ahead of next season.
Lakers acquire Russell Westbrook
After the Lakers‘ early playoff exit, the first offseason roster move featured acquiring Westbrook.
The star guard had privately angled to make his way to his hometown team for the opportunity to compete for an NBA title. He remains one of the game’s top talents after coming off averaging a triple-double for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
However, his arrival has brought forth persistent questions concerning his fit alongside James. The four-time NBA champion has quickly shut down any doubt playing with the former league MVP.
LeBron James just gave Russell Westbrook the kick of confidence he needs: ‘We don’t need Russ to change for anybody’
Since the Lakers acquired Westbrook, lingering doubts remain regarding his fit alongside James.
The bulk of the concern lies with Westbrook’s playing style messing with his as they have been most effective as the primary ball-handler. During the Lakers’ Media Day on Tuesday morning, James voiced that the team needs the former league MVP to play like he always has.
“We need Russ to be Russ,” James said. “We don’t need Russ change for anybody. That’s what we got him. It’s our job to help him feel comfortable in our system. He’s going to be dynamic as he’s always been.”
James added that since the trade, he and Westbrook have been “tied at the hip” to help get his new teammate comfortable being with the Lakers. At the same time, the 36-year-old holds firm belief he can figure out how to best play alongside the All-Star guard like he previously did with Davis and Dwyane Wade.
“I watch enough sports and enough basketball to know what I need to do to help the ballclub depending on the acquisitions we make per year,” James said. “I am very cerebral about what I need to do for our team to be as great as we can be, such as being able to counterpart what Russ brings to the table and also the other guys we have as well.
“I’m personally not worried about trying to fit with Russ, fit with D-Wade or Fit with AD. I always figure it out. I don’t think it’s going to be peanut butter and jelly to start the season, but that’s all part of the process and part of my work. I like to put in the work in order to get to how great it can be.”
Lakers must build on-court chemistry to contend for an NBA title
The James-Westbrook dynamic is one of the many adjustments the Lakers need to make.
Los Angeles is returning a few familiar faces with James, Davis, Talen Horton-Tucker, Rajon Rondo, and Dwight Howard. However, the rest of the roster is a brand new assortment of players that will need to find the best method to work off each other. The team will benefit from having a strong veteran presence throughout the roster with Carmelo Anthony, DeAndre Jordan, Trevor Ariza, and Wayne Ellington.
However, the task of finding the best method of playing off each other will be the top priority. It will take plenty of sacrifice of egos and playing time to get the most out of the group. The front office strung together a roster with plenty of experience, shooting, and versatile defenders.
What’s left ahead is building the on-chemistry and cohesion needed to compete for an NBA title.