Russell Westbrook’s team-first message should give Lakers fans hope for upcoming 2022-23 campaign

Jason Simpson
4 Min Read

It’s no secret that the 2021-22 NBA season was a rocky one for veteran guard Russell Westbrook.

It was the nine-time All-Star’s first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, and things didn’t go as planned. He was an awkward fit alongside the rest of L.A.’s roster, and it wound up being an underwhelming season for him.

However, the 2022-23 season marks a brand new opportunity for Westbrook and the Lakers, and the 33-year-old is ready to do whatever it takes to win.

“I’m all-in on whatever it takes for this team to win,” Westbrook said to ESPN. “I’m prepared for whatever comes my way.”

Moreover, Westbrook is confident that he’s nowhere close to running out of steam.

“I’m not even close to being done,” Westbrook said. “I’m super grateful and blessed to be able to go compete year after year, and that’s all I can do is prepare myself, my mind, my body for as long as I play.”

Westbrook realizes that there may be bumps in the road throughout the 2022-23 campaign, but he’s also aware that that’s part of the process.

“I’m going to make mistakes,” he said. “I’m [occasionally] not going to have good games. There will be times and stretches when I don’t play well. I’ve owned that, and there were times last year that I could’ve played better, and I own that part of it. Moving into this year, I feel even more prepared than I was in years past. That’s what I’m looking forward to the most. That, right there, will get me past any struggles that come my way.”

Westbrook stating that he’s “not even close to being done” creates an interesting storyline. Last season, some fans were ready to call the former MVP washed.

However, there’s no denying that the role he was asked to play last season didn’t do him any favors. Although he was able to average a respectable 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game, it seemed like he was never able to completely find his footing alongside stars like LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

What’s interesting is that the concerns regarding Westbrook’s fit haven’t exactly gone away this offseason. He will once again find himself playing with high-usage players like James and Davis in the upcoming season, and unless he improves as a shooter and defender, his fit could become an issue again.

The idea of bringing Westbrook off the bench has been kicked around, and it’s certainly an interesting concept. If he were to become a sixth man for Los Angeles, he’d be able to play his vintage style of basketball of eating a lot of usage and running the show for a chunk of each game.

That could give L.A.’s second unit a huge spark, although it’s unclear how likely it really is that Westbrook will indeed be moved to a bench role.

Regardless, the guard seems motivated for the upcoming season, and that’s good news for the Lakers.

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Jason is excited about the LeBron James era of Lakers basketball and hopes that the end result will be multiple championships.