Russell Westbrook's first year with the LA Lakers led to heavy criticism. The Lakers' 2021-22 NBA season was filled with chemistry issues, injuries and constant lineup changes, but most of the blame got put on Westbrook.
Statistically, Westbrook had one of his worst years. His inability to be counted on from the outside when needed left a huge hole in the offense. Additionally, fans and the media constantly pointed out how he caused a ton of turnovers even though he averaged less than when he was with the Washington Wizards.
There are some who believe Westbrook shouldn't be blamed for most of the Lakers' struggles. Former All-Star Stephon Marbury shared his take on why Westbrook shouldn't be at fault for their lackluster season:
"There's other factors of why they lost. Russ plays the way he plays, and he's figuring out how to play with somebody who's ball dominant in LeBron (James) as well. The best player is supposed to make the adjustment. ... I've seen him one time, like, yeah, as a player, you're trying to win.
"You're trying to do what is needed to win, and you're being criticized ... but he still goes out and he do it."
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Marbury said that it is difficult for Westbrook to adapt a new role because he's not accustomed to it. Usually, the two-time All-Star game MVP needs the ball in his hands to be effective in an offense.
Outside shooting is what Russell Westbrook needs to work on before the season starts
Often left wide open or not heavily contested from the outside, Russell Westbrook's outside game was a huge hole in the Lakers offense.
The 6-foot-3 athletic guard wasn't known to be a threat from the outside even before arriving in Los Angeles.
From the 2008-09 to 2020-21 seasons, Westbrook hovered around 30% from the 3-point arc. He's mostly effective on the open court during fastbreaks. His speed combined with his unworldly athleticism is what made him into an All-NBA talent. However, that seems to be a disadvantage now that he's almost in his mid-30s.
At this point, defenses have learned to guard Westbrook in the halfcourt. The defense usually gives him much space in the 3-point area, daring him to shoot. Westbrook, of course, doesn't usually take them as he's not confident in his outside shots. But at this point, Westbrook should take on the responsibility of working on a consistent outside shot.
He's been in the league for 14 seasons and still doesn't have a weapon he can use when left open from three. Of course, he can occasionally knock them down, however, it's at a low percentage (30.5% in his career).
Westbrook is still an incredible talent, and many fans want to see him succeed. Marbury could be right in not putting all the blame on Westbrook, but he should at least work on something to prove that point.