The Los Angeles Lakers have stumbled through much of the first half of the 2021-22 campaign. The Lakers’ shortcomings have shifted growing criticism toward Russell Westbrook‘s play. Those factors have led prominent NBA insider Zach Lowe to blast Westbrook’s superstar status.
Russell Westbrook is stumbling to find his footing in Los Angeles
The Lakers’ blockbuster move to acquire the former league MVP came with the expectation of a massive adjustment phase ahead.
Westbrook has stumbled at times to find his footing as the team’s third scoring option, which is a role he hasn’t undertaken in his career. The 33-year-old has put forth promising play, but he hasn’t found a stable spot within the offense due to injuries and struggles with consistency.
Westbrook exemplified those shortcomings in the Lakers’ 108-103 win on Sunday as he committed nine turnovers and missed all five 3-point attempts. After the contest, the nine-time All-Star pushed back at the criticism concerning his play.
“My game, you know, is fine,” Westbrook said via Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “My game is not predicated on shots or if I turn the ball over. Like, I miss some shots, that’s part of the game. I’m allowed to miss shots. I can do that. Like any other player, I can do that. I can turn the ball over, too. I can do that. That’s all a part of the game.”
In recent days, Westbrook has fired back at the negative chatter, voicing that he’s only in tune with the opinions of his teammates and coaching staff. However, a prominent NBA insider has put his superstar status under fire again.
Russell Westbrook’s superstar status is under fire as Lakers point guard’s struggles continue
Through the first 38 games, Westbrook’s impact with the Lakers hasn’t been what was expected.
However, it’s led to a growing concern regarding his status as one of the game’s top players as he’s struggled to play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis (when healthy). Longtime ESPN NBA insider Zach Lowe took it a step further by bluntly voicing that Westbrook isn’t a superstar talent anymore.
“I think it’s just time to call a spade a spade,” Lowe said on a recent episode of The Lowe Post podcast. “Russ is not a superstar, whatever your definition of a superstar is. And when I hear that word, what I hear is ‘could make an All-NBA team this year’ kind of player. Russ just isn’t that player anymore.”
Lowe further fueled his stance by stating that Westbrook’s turnovers and misses at the rim are becoming glaringly obvious weak points. The 33-year-old is only second beyond James Harden with 4.8 turnovers per contest. His issues with ball-handling and decision-making, especially late in games, have become a constant criticism.
Westbrook is still a tremendous all-around talent, averaging triple-double type numbers with 19.6 points, 8.3 assists, and 8.1 rebounds while posting nine triple-double performances. However, it’s his lacking in the areas that Lowe pointed out that have generated increasing doubt in his status as a superstar.
With those shortcomings continuing to persist, the new narrative around him may be problematic for him to shake.
LeBron James’ stellar play anchoring the Lakers’ charge
As Westbrook finds his footing, James leads the charge behind his remarkable play.
The 37-year-old remains an ageless wonder in his 19th campaign, as he’s averaging 28.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 6.6 assists while shooting 52.3% from the floor and 37.4% from 3-point range. It includes becoming the first player age 36 or older to notch seven straight 30-point outings.
James’ MVP-caliber performance has kept the Lakers afloat, especially with Davis missing at least a month due to an MCL sprain in his left knee. Los Angeles will need much more than that as it’s an opportunity for Westbrook to become the x-factor the team needs to finally make headway.
The circumstances haven’t been great for the Lakers due to injuries and COVID-19 related issues, but the onus is on their big-splash offseason addition to prove he’s the missing piece.