The fifth chapter of Russell Westbrook’s profession started with a Clippers’ double-overtime loss to the Kings in a thriller on Friday night time.
On the commerce deadline, Westbrook was despatched from the Lakers to the Jazz in a three-team cope with the Timberwolves, formally ending his tenure with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and firm. It was instantly made clear that Westbrook would not swimsuit up for Utah, awaiting a contract buyout to achieve the liberty to latch on to a group with championship aspirations.
As soon as the Jazz reached a buyout with Westbrook over the All-Star break, it paved the way in which for the nine-time All-Star to hitch Los Angeles’ different group.
With a void at level guard all season, Westbrook’s former Thunder teammate Paul George campaigned for the entrance workplace to signal the previous MVP. As soon as he signed with the group, Head coach Ty Lue did not mince phrases when he mentioned Westbrook’s position, inserting him proper into the beginning lineup.
As LA appears to make a push for its first championship in franchise historical past, will Westbrook be the lacking piece? The Sporting Information takes a deeper dive into his first sport in a brand new uniform.
MORE: Why Westbrook is a low-risk wager for Clippers’ 2023 title push
How did Russell Westbrook play in his Clippers debut?
Stat line: 17 PTS (7-13 FG, 1-4 3PT, 2-2 FT), 14 AST, 5 REB, 1 STL, 7 TO
Westbrook joined Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Marcus Morris Sr. and Mason Plumlee within the beginning lineup, sending Terance Mann — who did an superior job as an interim level guard — again to the bench.
Westbrook wasted no time making an influence as a playmaker, dishing some easy dimes off of drives and pushing the tempo to seek out open shooters on the quick break.
That @UCLAMBB [email protected] ➡️ @npowell2404 pic.twitter.com/DHVSFWz2TC
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) February 25, 2023
The Clippers put the ball in Westbrook’s fingers and let him provoke the offense, operating quite a lot of pick-and-roll appears to permit the participant who’s tenth all-time in assists to make reads and create simple appears for his teammates.
Clippers simply ran Spain decide & roll with Westbrook-PG-Plumlee pic.twitter.com/6nP1emK9SZ
— Shane Younger (@YoungNBA) February 25, 2023
Additionally they briefly experimented with utilizing him as a screener — one thing he was unwilling to do with the Lakers — seeking to make the most of Westbrook when he would not have the ball in his fingers.
The Clippers benefitted from Westbrook’s passing presence straight away, as he reached the 10-assist mark halfway by means of the third quarter.
Late within the fourth quarter, Westbrook stepped as much as prolong the Clippers’ lead with below 20 seconds to play. He took rookie ahead Keegan Murray off the dribble, ending on the rim to place LA up three with 15.2 seconds remaining.
Russ within the clutch 💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/mka9CrFlMr
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 25, 2023
He additionally knocked down his solely 3-pointer in a large spot in time beyond regulation — his second clutch bucket of the night time.
Westbrook ended up fouling out in double time beyond regulation because the Clippers fell to the Kings within the second-highest scoring sport in NBA historical past, 176-175.
At this level, it is no secret that Westbrook cannot shoot. In line with NBA stats, he’s taking pictures 31.9 p.c on midrange jumpers and 29.6 p.c on 3s this season.
The Kings defended him as a non-shooter, both sagging means off of Westbrook or sending his defender to double-team Leonard or George to create some spacing points for the Clippers’ offense at occasions.
Kawhi higher get used to one of these remedy with Russ enjoying closing minutes. It will be 4 on 5 each time. pic.twitter.com/x2faIapTgo
— Mo Dakhil (@MoDakhil_NBA) February 25, 2023
Fortunately for LA, it did not matter a lot as a result of it buried a franchise-record 26 3s at a 57.8 p.c clip.
The potential spacing concern was identified when the Clippers signed Westbrook however in his debut, we obtained a glimpse of what it appears like on a brand new group. Nevertheless, compared to the Lakers, the Clippers have a complete roster of perimeter shooters who could make up for Westbrook’s lack of a risk from outdoors of the paint. His new group would not want him to attain with what number of offensive weapons they’ve.
The spacing is one thing to observe on nights when LA is enjoying a greater defensive group than Sacramento (who ranks twenty second within the NBA).
Clippers upcoming schedule
4 of LA’s subsequent 5 video games of the season are on nationwide TV.