Chauncey Billups on Tyronn Lue and Russell Westbrook: "I just think Russ needed someone who could hug him."
— Law Murray 📱 (@LawMurrayTheNU) April 8, 2023
While the Portland Trail Blazers head coach might have been joking after he was asked about Westbrook and Clippers coach Tyronn Lue, he could actually be onto something. Considering how well Westbrook has played since he signed with the Clippers a little after the trade deadline, it stands to reason that the new environment has been beneficial for the veteran playmaker.
Westbrook’s numbers have mostly stayed the same since the trade. In 52 appearances with the Lakers in the 2022-23 campaign, the former MVP put up 15.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. He also started just three of those contests.
With the Clippers, he is averaging 15.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 7.6 assists per match. A key difference, though, is his efficiency. Westbrook didn’t shoot the ball that well for the Purple and Gold. With his new team, he is converting 49.4 percent of his field-goal attempts and 34.8 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
Furthermore, the 34-year-old floor general appears thrilled to be playing for the Clippers. Perhaps having the trust of Lue and the rest of the coaching staff has done wonders for Westbrook. After all, he has started all 20 contests he has suited up for the Clippers after being dealt by the Lakers.
Interestingly, the nine-time All-Star’s presence hasn’t resulted in many wins for the Clippers. The squad is just 10-10 since his arrival and has fallen to the No. 5 spot in the West. Just before the Westbrook pickup, it ranked as high as No. 3 in the conference.
In contrast, the Lakers have risen in the standings after letting go of Westbrook. Not only are they in contention for an outright playoff berth, but they will also finish the regular season with a record above .500. Even LeBron James was amazed by how things have turned out for the franchise in this campaign.
LeBron James: "I was just telling AD, I was like, 'Man, can you believe that we going to finish this season above .500 after everything that's gone on this season?' We've turned this thing around."
— Melissa Rohlin (@melissarohlin) April 8, 2023
It remains to be seen if the Lakers can nab a top-six spot in the West. They will need a win against the Utah Jazz on Sunday to have a chance of doing so.