Shaquille O’Neal Makes Bold Russell Westbrook Prediction

Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers

Russell Westbrook’s debut season with the Los Angeles Lakers did not go to plan, but that doesn’t mean his second season with the franchise can’t still be a successful one.

Former Laker, Shaquille O’Neal believes that the addition of Patrick Beverley this summer is going to be the move that spurs Westbrook back towards his best form, as the outspoken guard will hold the superstar accountable if he fails to reach the level we all know he’s capable of.

“Pat Bev is gonna help Russ get back close to the level that he was at ’cause he’s gonna hold him accountable. When you shoot off the side of the backboard, someone needs to get you, ‘Look, hey man, what you are you doing?… I know Patrick Beverley is going to be a little bit more of a voice because LeBron is sort of like me. He will say something every now and then. Pat Beverley is going to say something all the time,” O’Neal said during an October 1 episode of The Big Podcast.


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It’s true, Westbrook was a shadow of his former self last season, especially when it came to being the focal point of the Lakers’ offense, but, he still managed to end the season with impressive averages of 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per game while shooting 44.4% from the field. 

Hopefully, Darvin Ham can find a way to put Westbrook in the best position possible for him to become a successful addition to the Lakers roster, and Beverley can do his best to keep the superstar on his toes and fired up to perform throughout the upcoming season.


Westbrook Expected to Start Next Season

As the Lakers have been unable to find a willing trade partner for Westbrook, it would seem that the coaching staff is resigned to him being a significant part of the team’s rotation – to start the season, at least.

According to a recent report by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, who was speaking on a September 19 episode of ESPN’s NBA Today, Westbrook is expected to be the team’s starting guard to begin the season.


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“From what I understand now, they still see Russell Westbrook as a starter…He’s a former MVP. He’s given that respect. Everyone’s gonna compete for jobs. … Russell Westbrook is the starter there,” Shelburne said.

Given that Westbrook is clearly the most talented point guard on the Lakers roster, it makes sense that Los Angeles are still trying to make his addition work for their roster.


Westbrook May Not Close Out Games

Starting a game is one thing, being part of the closing lineup is another, and for Westbrook, it would seem that being part of the Lakers’ end-of-game rotation is going to be a battle for him.

Writing in a September 28 article for Bleacher Report, NBA analyst, Andy Bailey put forth his reasoning as to why Westbrook will be on the Lakers bench during the clutch, regardless of his resume or credentials.

“Of course, Russell Westbrook isn’t part of the equation here…That’s less than ideal for a player making $47.1 million, but his pound-the-ball game just clashes too much with those of LeBron and AD,” Bailey wrote. 

Still, closing lineups are often situational, and are generally matchup-dependent – so given Westbrook’s talents, experience, and desire to win, there is every chance he makes Los Angeles’ closing rotation before the season draws to a close.

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