Russell Westbrook was front and center in the LA Lakers’ post-mortem after a humiliating season. One of the most compelling rumors that came out in the offseason was Westbrook’s dismissal of former coach Frank Vogel’s criticisms during film sessions.
On his podcast, Zach Lowe gave a possible scenario that prompted the former MVP to push back on Vogel’s alleged criticisms. Here’s what the senior ESPN writer speculated about regarding these intriguing reports:
“On the best teams, the best players get the same in film sessions as the back end of the rotation players…
“If you’re getting singled out and LeBron is being left off the hook for rotations he doesn't’ make and AD is being left off the hook for bad shot selection or turnovers, then that’s fair to recoil and be like, ‘Wait a second, why am I the only one getting hammered?’”
Before the Vogel incident, Russell Westbrook generally had good working relationships with former coaches. Scott Brooks, his OKC Thunder and Washington Wizards coach can’t say enough how great of a player “Brodie” is.
Westbrook basically blamed his failures last season on Frank Vogel and called out LeBron James and Anthony Davis for practically lying. When told that James and AD supported his game, Russ responded that that wasn’t really the case at all.
Davis came into the season looking out of shape while James was sometimes disinterested in defense. If Vogel didn’t address those issues, then Russ would have had reason to belittle the shot-caller’s criticisms.
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Zach Lowe, however, added that Vogel refusing to call out “King James” and Davis for a botched assignment or mistake was highly unlikely:
“But Frank Vogel’s whole thing the minute he took over the Lakers’ job was, ‘I’m holding the Big Two accountable on defense.’ And that’s gonna include film sessions.
“Unless that changed, then I don’t really think Russ has grounds to recoil. If it did change and LeBron and AD were being left out of the criticism then I think there are grounds to recoil.”
The LA Lakers’ next season still rests on the shoulders of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook
New head coach Darvin Ham has already divulged his plans to make Anthony Davis the hub of the offense. LeBron James will also continue to have the ball in his hands due to his playmaking and scoring. Russell Westbrook will once again be the third wheel on offense.
How Ham manages to maximize Westbrook could make or break the LA Lakers’ season. If his impact continues to be similar to what it was under Vogel’s term, LA could be headed for another embarrassingly long offseason.
The arrival of Patrick Beverley should help the Lakers’ defense, hustle and grit. GM Rob Pelinka has also infused the roster with youth and energy. However, the team still lacks shooting and depth.
If Russell Westbrook brings in more of the same from last season, LA’s next campaign could continue to be the NBA’s favorite punching bag.