The Los Angeles Lakers were in desperate need of a spark, an offensive catalyst that could take some pressure off LeBron James‘ shoulders.
Fortunately for them, Russell Westbrook has proven to be up to the task, embracing a lesser role off the bench but making the most of every single minute he’s been on the court.
Westbrook has literally brought his career back to life in his new role.
In fact, he’s turning back the clock and posting MVP-caliber numbers again over the past six games, although his team is still struggling to close out games and get wins.
Russell Westbrook’s last 6 games:
23 PTS – 5 REB – 15 AST
25 PTS – 7 REB – 7 AST
28 PTS – 7 REB – 5 AST
20 PTS – 14 REB – 11 AST
24 PTS – 5 REB – 4 AST
19 PTS – 7 REB – 5 AST
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) January 19, 2023
Westbrook was the Lakers’ scapegoat for the better part of last season.
He got into heated altercations with the fans, with some even sending death threats to his family.
Westbrook also expressed his discontent with being on the bench in late-game situations, stating that Frank Vogel didn’t even make his role clear.
But coach Darvin Ham has sure proven that he can make the most of Westbrook’s unmatched energy, speed, and athleticism, turning him into a legit Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
The former MVP will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
And while he won’t make anywhere near the $40+ million he’s making this year, he’s now proving that he can contribute in a lesser role and won’t be a distraction or a toxic locker-room presence.
Maybe even the Lakers decide to keep him around after shopping him for the past season-and-a-half.