It’s no secret that Russell Westbrook’s tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t go as hoped. He was brought in to be a leading player alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis in search of another ring for the Lakers, but the team didn’t even make the postseason in his only full season with it.
Former NBA point guard Baron Davis, who spent some time with the Clippers during his career, recently expressed his disappointment with how Westbrook’s Lakers tenure played out.
“Russ got love from the real people in this city,” Davis told AllClippers. “When you look at L.A. as an entertainment space, a media source, and what the national media picks up, he didn’t get the attention that he should’ve gotten [with the Lakers]. But he’s always got love here.”
During his time with the Lakers, Westbrook averaged 17.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the field and just 29.7 percent from beyond the arc.
In 21 regular season games with the Clippers last season, the former first-round pick improved his play and recorded 15.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 7.6 assists nightly on 48.9 percent shooting from the field and 35.6 percent shooting from deep.
“Him being home is always great,” Davis continued. “It’s great for the city, it’s great for the kids, Russ is just a stand up guy. He’s a great player, a legend, and a future Hall-of-Famer.”
With superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George missing most of Los Angeles’ first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns last season, Westbrook had to take on a leading role. He posted averages of 23.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.4 blocks per game, but it wasn’t enough to help the Clippers move on.
The California native re-signed with the Clippers this offseason and will likely play a key role for the team again this season. Davis appears to be a fan of the pairing.
“[Westbrook’s] leadership definitely helped the energy the Clippers played with,” Davis said. “That type of determination and will as a backbone, I think that’s what the Clippers needed, that backbone and that energy source.”
Only time will tell if Westbrook and the Clippers have greater success this season. As long as they stay healthy, they figure to be one of the top contenders in the Western Conference alongside James and the Lakers.
Perhaps the 2023-24 season will be the first one in which the crosstown rivals face off against one another in the playoffs.