Russell Westbrook is having one of his worst seasons in recent memory. The Los Angeles Lakers guard has struggled mightily at times, with even his opponents mocking him. However, his former teammate, Bradley Beal, appears to have had enough of the slander.
Beal and Westbrook played only one season together on the Washington Wizards. Still, the three-time All-Star suggests he’s learned a lot from playing alongside the former NBA Most Valuable Player. The Wizards star recently clapped back at people who have been critical of Westbrook’s play during the 2021 season.
Bradley Beal defends Lakers guard Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook’s numbers aren’t horrible, but there’s a noticeable difference if you compare to his stats in seasons past. The LA Lakers guard averages 18.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 7.2 assists on the season. The numbers have dipped in each category year over year. He’s also struggled with efficiency, shooting 43.9% from the field and 29.6% from behind the arc.
Bradley Beal doesn’t care what anyone thinks. The Washington Wizards All-Star has Westbrook’s back, and he’s tired of hearing the slander surrounding his former teammate. Beal recently appeared on The Draymond Green Show and provided his take on all of the noise.
“That s*** pissed me off, I’m not going to lie, bro,” Beal said. “It really frustrated me, especially being a guy that played with him. The disrespect, that s*** gotta stop. We’re acting like this man is not a Hall of Famer, first ballot.”
Beal suggests Westbrook’s playing style can turn some people off, but he’s unapologetically him.
“The way he plays may not be your cup of tea, it may not be,” he added. “Russ ain’t going to shoot a million threes. Russ is going to play winning basketball, Russ is going to go get rebounds, Russ is going to make assists. He’s going to take advantage of matchups he feels like he can. That’s Russ. And he’s going to play 100 miles an hour, going to play hard. If that’s not your cup of tea, don’t watch him.”
Bradley Beal believes people are prisoners of the moment and are trying to change him when he’s played the same brand of basketball for his entire career.
The Wizards All-Star learned a lot from playing with the former MVP
Bradley Beal didn’t play with Russell Westbrook for very long, but he speaks highly of the LA Lakers star. Westbrook joined the Washington Wizards in 2020 after getting traded by the Houston Rockets for John Wall.
In their short time together, Beal reveals he learned a lot about the veteran guard and even some lessons to apply to himself.
“I was frustrated, you know, my brother’s [Wall] gone,” said Beal. “But I understood who we were gaining. I understood who Russ was, and this is an MVP we’re getting. No disrespect to John, but Russ has won an MVP, you know how Russ plays. He is balls to the wall every single night. He is going hard every night.”
Beal suggests he’s never played with a guy quite like Westbrook. The UCLA product’s motor taught him a lot about how to approach the game.
“Every single night, we don’t always want to bring it. We’re tired some nights, banged up a lot of nights, whatever the case may be. We’re dealing with something mentally. I’ve literally seen this dude lace them up and play as hard as he possibly could every single night. And he pushed me. All I heard all year was, ‘Come on, B, keep going, B.’ I never understood that drive. But being in the fire with him, being around him on the day to day, seeing how he prepared, I’m ok, that’s why.”
LA just doesn’t appear to be the right fit for Westbrook
As Bradley Beal argues, Russell Westbrook does deserve more respect than he’s been getting this season. However, it’s hard to ignore his struggles.
Many people have been critical of Westbrook because they’ve seen his greatness. They’ve seen him be one of the best players the NBA has to offer. That same player hasn’t been on the floor for the LA Lakers in 2021.
While the 33-year-old guard’s play is just one of many issues the Lakers have right now, it’s a pretty big one. LA hoped to contend for another title this year. Anthony Davis hasn’t been in the lineup, but Westbrook hasn’t consistently stepped up in his absence.
Whether or not the Lakers will admit it, Russell Westbrook isn’t a great fit for this Lakers team as currently constructed. The nine-time All-Star has put up ridiculous numbers throughout his career. He’s averaged a triple-double on four separate occasions. However, he’s a ball-dominant guard. That presents a problem when playing alongside LeBron James.
Westbrook is not an efficient spot-up shooter and plays at his best when he can control the flow of the game. As enticing as the thought of adding him to the mix sounded, it hasn’t panned out. The Russell Westbrook experiment appears to be a one-and-done scenario.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference