Russell Westbrook has come home. 13 years after being drafted by the Seattle Supersonics out of UCLA, the hometown kid returns.
From the moment the trade was leaked during the NBA Draft, the opinions have been endless. Some hate it, others like it, but one thing is for sure: we are in for one hell of a ride. Westbrook is a nine-time All-Star, nine-time All-NBA selection, two-time scoring champion and the Most Valuable Player in the 2016-17 season. He has averaged a triple double for an entire season four times in his career.
The Lakers are getting an amazing basketball player. Yes, the perimeter shooting is a concern, but the resume above speaks for itself. The addition of Westbrook also means we should see Anthony Davis play the five more often next season. On top of that, there is no denying Westbrook has one of the biggest motors we have ever seen and his intensity is on display every time he sets foot on the court. One tidbit that keeps floating around social media was Kobe Bryant’s praise of Westbrook for having that same killer instinct and for us Laker fans, that resonates.
Westbrook has been electrifying fans since he first arrived in Westwood. He was not a high profile recruit coming out of Leuzinger High School where he averaged 25.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.3 assists per game. Additionally, he had to play behind Darren Collison, who had the starting position locked up after Jordan Farmar entered the draft. Westbrook had to make his minutes count and made a name for himself with his electrifying dunks.
As you can see from the video above, the Cal defender was absolutely obliterated by the perfect combination of speed and power. Westbrook only played nine minutes per game as a freshman, but that did not deter him whatsoever.
Westbrook’s passion and work ethic paid dividends the following season. Although he was still coming off the bench, Westbrook played 33.8 minutes per game and averaged 12.7 points. More importantly, he helped UCLA reach their third straight Final Four. While the Bruins eventually lost to Memphis, Westbrook finished his season as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and an All-Pac 12 selection.
Awards and accolades aside, Westbrook’s tenacity is what stands out of his time at UCLA. He came into a situation where his position was filled by a really good player who ended up having a long NBA career. That was not enough to stop Russ; he kept pushing and ended up as the fourth overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.
Surely if you were to ask Westbrook, he is still disappointed he didn’t bring UCLA their first title since 1995. As Herm Edwards famously said, “We play to win the game” and every time Westbrook steps out to that court, he embodies that mantra. He will run you over to get his team the win and that is what he is bringing to the Lakers.
An NBA championship has eluded Westbrook during his 13-year career. He has been close, but has not been able to hug that Larry O’Brien trophy. He has accomplished mostly every accolade in this league and now has an opportunity to bring a chip home for the Lakers, the team he rooted for growing up.
His hunger for that championship is exactly what the Lakers need. LeBron James and AD have been there before, but this upcoming season Westbrook will make sure his team stays hungry because adding a ring to his resume will cap his hall of fame career.