Lakers’ Russell Westbrook Sounds Off About His NBA Future

Lakers star Russell Westbrook

Getty Lakers star Russell Westbrook

Los Angeles Lakers star Russell Westbrook sounded off about his NBA future during an interview with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN ahead of media day.

Westbrook, who was second in the NBA in turnovers last season, thinks the obituaries written about his NBA prime are premature. Many pundits believe the one-time MVP is no longer a starting point guard in the league.

“I’m not even close to being done,” Westbrook said. “I’m super grateful and blessed to be able to go compete year after year, and that’s all I can do is prepare myself, my mind, my body for as long as I play.”

Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 78 starts last season, which are solid numbers. However, the nine-time All-Star, who was on the trade block all offseason, ranked 42nd in true shooting percentage and had a plus-minus of -211.

The Lakers tried to trade Westbrook several times during the summer. However, no deal came to fruition and the NBA’s all-time leader in triple-doubles is ready for his second season in Los Angeles.

Westbrook: ‘Moving into This Year, I Feel Even More Prepared Than I Was in Years Past’

Westbrook, who will make $47.1 million this season in the final year of his contract, told Wojnarowski that he’s fully prepared for the 2022-23 campaign after a productive summer. The UCLA product went viral on September 15th after showing off a new jump shot in New York.

“I’m going to make mistakes. I’m [occasionally] not going to have good games,” Westbrook said. “There will be times and stretches when I don’t play well. I’ve owned that, and there were times last year that I could’ve played better, and I own that part of it. Moving into this year, I feel even more prepared than I was in years past. That’s what I’m looking forward to the most. That, right there, will get me past any struggles that come my way.”

On September 19th’s episode of “NBA Today,” ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said the Lakers still view Westbrook as a starter despite acquiring Patrick Beverley from the Utah Jazz and signing Dennis Schroder in unrestricted free agency. Westbrook hasn’t come off the bench in an NBA game since November 28th, 2008, a month into his rookie season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

When new Lakers head coach Darvin Ham was asked about the possibility of Westbrook coming off the bench during his introductory press conference in June, Westbrook — who was at the press conference — laughed at the notion.

Ham Seems Excited to Coach Westbrook

Ham seems genuinely excited to coach Westbrook, who didn’t have a good relationship with Frank Vogel. Ham praised Westbrook’s level of buy-in on September 6th.

“Everything has been clear and upfront between he and I,” Ham said. “Like, he’s been a pleasure. I’ve been a huge fan throughout his time in the league. He’s a salt of the earth. And again, he wants to win. I want to help him get that championship ring. But it starts here. It starts today. It starts with the buy-in. It starts with supporting your teammates and supporting a vision and doing that and working your butt off day in and day out. Everyone’s quick to look at the destination but you really have to appreciate the journey and respect and embrace the journey. He’s been that since Day 1. Anytime I call him or I need him, text messages. The communication has been great both ways. He’s in here. He’s in here putting in the work. I love him and I can’t wait to coach him and I can’t wait to succeed with him.”

According to an August 9th report from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the Lakers are optimistic that Westbrook will improve his 3-point shooting from the corners this season. The corner 3-pointer is the shortest shot from beyond the arc. Westbrook hit 43.8% of his 3-pointers from the corner last season, which was fourth on the Lakers.

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