Russell Westbrook’s All-Star Voting Numbers Are a Clear Sign Los Angeles Lakers Fans Are Over Him
If you had to select a player most responsible for the Los Angeles Lakers having 20 wins, you’d likely choose the incomparable LeBron James. Though if you had to assign a player most responsible for their 19 losses, Russell Westbrook almost immediately comes to mind.
Westbrook’s first season in LA has been a roller coaster. Despite numerous triple-doubles and a season stat line any player would be envious of, his turnovers and spotty shooting have been a great detriment to the Lakers’ overall success. So it makes sense the Purple and Gold’s passionate fan base wouldn’t show a whole lot of All-Star love for the mystifying guard.
Russell Westbrook has hurt the Los Angeles Lakers more than he has helped them
In the grand scheme of things, Westbrook isn’t having an awful season. The 33-year-old is averaging 19.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.1 assists. His 45.2% rate from the field is higher than in all but three of his previous 13 seasons. Not to mention, his nine triple-doubles lead the league, right on cue for the sport’s all-time leader.
However, anyone that’s watched Westbrook this season knows the good is often canceled out by a barrage of bone-headed mistakes.
First, the turnovers. Westbrook has often been a high-turnover player dating back to his Oklahoma City Thunder days. This year, the two-time scoring champion has a league-high 181 turnovers through 39 games, placing him on track to lead the NBA for the fifth time. Russ has also picked up 120 personal fouls, the fourth-most in the league.
Along with the giveaways and hacks, Westbrook has an apt for killing momentum with bad misses at the wrong times. And with Anthony Davis out, the 2016-17 MVP takes on an even greater role within the offense down the stretch, which hasn’t always produced the most optimal results.
Lakers fans are not showering Westbrook with All-Star support
For all the ups and downs a season with Westbrook typically brings, the high-octane guard has still earned nine All-Star selections. However, a 10th is starting to look unlikely.
In the first fan returns of 2022 NBA All-Star voting, Westbrook received 210,065 votes. That number placed him ninth among all Western Conference guards, just behind Damian Lillard and just in front of Anthony Edwards. Sitting atop the guard list is MVP favorite Stephen Curry with close to 2.6 million votes, followed by Luka Doncic and Ja Morant with over 669,000 votes each.
Westbrook’s name alone is enough to receive some level of All-Star support no matter what. But it’s apparent that Lakers fans are focusing their All-Star efforts elsewhere.
To very little surprise, LeBron leads all Western Conference frontcourt players with over two million votes. In sixth place is the ailing Davis, who despite missing 12 games has accrued just shy of 600,000 votes. A bigger surprise is that the veteran Carmelo Anthony, who’s playing on a veteran’s minimum deal with LA, is eighth with 319,000 votes and counting. That’s over 100K more than Westbrook, who has played more minutes (1,396) than every other player in the league this season.
Westbrook can earn love from Lakers fans by winning games
Lakers fans haven’t been sold on Westbrook since the early stages of the season. Though the nine-time All-NBA selection can earn their adoration by cutting down on turnovers and, more importantly, winning games.
Russ had an encouraging outing on Tuesday against the Sacramento Kings. Not only did Westbrook chip in a modest 19 points and seven rebounds, but he finished the day with zero turnovers in over 33 minutes of action. It was the guard’s first turnover-less outing since March 14, 2016, snapping a streak of 407 straight games with a turnover.
The Lakers have also won their last three contests, sending them back over .500 just ahead of the halfway point. Granted, one of those games featured a nine-turnover performance from Russ. But wins tend to overshadow the bad nights.
There’s a reason the expression “Winning cures all” exists. It’s because winning simply does, in fact, cure all. Should the Lakers have a great second half, spearheaded by a healthy Davis returning to the club and LeBron continuing his run at a fifth MVP, Russ will benefit as a result. And if LA can somehow become the championship team many expected it to be before the season, Westbrook will cement his place in Laker lore.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.