In the world of professional basketball, the synergy between players and coaches is paramount. Clippers coach Tyronn Lue, in his candid assessment, believes that Russell Westbrook is a seamless addition to the Clippers’ roster. Let’s delve into the details and understand why this partnership is receiving such praise.
Westbrook’s Impact on Practice Intensity
One aspect that Coach Lue attributes to Russell Westbrook is the team’s remarkable shift in practice intensity during March. Despite having one of the NBA’s oldest rosters, the Clippers practiced harder than expected during a period of relative calm in their schedule. Westbrook, with his relentless work ethic, was a driving force behind this positive change.
Lue stated, "I credit Russ for a lot of that because you wouldn’t get a veteran team like this to practice as hard as we did in March but for those six, seven practices we had. We went hard. And so he led that charge as far as just getting everybody going, doing it full speed."
Westbrook’s Consistency and Energy
Consistency in effort and unwavering energy are traits that Westbrook brought to the Clippers from day one. While the Clippers may have initially had questions about Westbrook’s arrival, his dedication to playing hard consistently quickly earned their respect.
Lue commended Westbrook by saying, "Bringing Russ here really, really saved our season as far as making the playoffs, having this run we had in the playoffs. He really saved us. Hats off to Russ for bringing it every single night."
Improvements in Westbrook’s Game
During the regular season, Westbrook showcased significant improvements in various aspects of his game. Notably, his shooting numbers saw remarkable boosts compared to his initial season with the Lakers. His shooting percentage between three to 10 feet increased by 17 percentage points, while his shooting between 10 to 16 feet improved by 15 percentage points.
For Westbrook to remain with the Clippers, there might be a financial compromise. The Clippers lack Westbrook’s Bird rights, limiting their offer to around $3.8 million, close to the minimum salary. Coach Lue expressed his desire to retain Westbrook, acknowledging the financial challenges: "This has opened eyes for a lot of the teams, give him an opportunity if he can go out there and really get paid, but I want him back, for sure."
Team’s Support for Westbrook
Paul George, who played a pivotal role in advocating for Westbrook’s arrival in February, is eager to see him return. George emphasized Westbrook’s leadership and commitment, stating, "I just think he’s the leader that we need at the point guard position going forward."
Westbrook’s Adaptability and Value
Westbrook’s ability to adapt to unexpected changes became evident when both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were sidelined due to injuries during the playoffs. He stepped up as a top scoring option and averaged 23.6 points, his highest postseason average in five years. Despite the challenges, Westbrook maintained his field-goal percentage above average.
Moreover, Westbrook spoke highly of the Clippers’ positive atmosphere, a contrast to his earlier experience with the Lakers. He expressed his appreciation for "a happy and enjoyable environment."
What Lies Ahead
The question now is whether Russell Westbrook will continue his journey with the Clippers. With his unrestricted free agency approaching, the decision will be made in July. Clippers coach Tyronn Lue’s confidence in Westbrook’s fit with the team suggests that the Clippers may strive to keep this valuable player in their roster.
As the basketball world awaits the outcome of free agency, one thing is certain: the union of Westbrook and the Clippers has proven to be an unexpected and exciting development, one that could shape the team’s future in ways we’re yet to witness.
Additional Points of Interest
Will Russell Westbrook help the Clippers win a championship?
The Los Angeles Clippers have high hopes for Russell Westbrook, their newly acquired point guard, as they aim to enhance their championship prospects. However, Head Coach Tyronn Lue emphasizes a balanced approach, stating, "We want Russ to be Russ." Lue’s message is clear: there’s no excessive pressure on the veteran player. Whether Westbrook is in the driver’s seat or taking a back seat, the team is prepared to adapt and communicate accordingly.
Why did the Clippers promote Mike Lue in 2020?
In 2020, the Clippers made a strategic decision to promote Mike Lue to a prominent coaching role. This choice was made over other notable candidates, including future Lakers coach Darvin Ham and future Sacramento coach Mike Brown. The rationale behind this promotion was rooted in the belief that Lue was the most suitable candidate to lead a team with two superstar players and aspirations of winning a championship. Remarkably, the Clippers continue to stand by their conviction in Lue’s capabilities.
Could a new coach unlock a success for the Clippers?
In recent times, the Clippers’ journey has been marked by persistent setbacks, including recurring injuries to their franchise stars, early playoff disappointments, and frequent shifts in coaching staff. The prospect of having one of the league’s top coaches working alongside two of the brightest talents of this era raises the question: Could a new coach be the key to unlocking a path to success for the Clippers?
Who is Russell Westbrook?
Russell Westbrook, a dynamic NBA player, is set to make his debut for the LA Clippers this week, potentially as soon as Friday night when they face the Sacramento Kings. Westbrook’s journey to the Clippers involved a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Utah Jazz in a three-team deal, which also included the Minnesota Timberwolves.