LA Clippers: How Russell Westbrook trade affects LAC’s chances

LA Clippers, Terance Mann. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
LA Clippers, Terance Mann. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Los Angeles Lakers traded for Russell Westbrook, they seemed to expect LA Clippers fans to be in shambles.

I have no idea as to why that was the expectation.

Do I think Russell Westbrook makes the Lakers better? Yes, but how much better?

I was unaware that they needed a point guard, because their fans have been relentlessly complaining for over three months about how it was ‘injuries’ that cost them their season. Not once did I hear them complain about point guard play. I think I know why.

The LA Clippers will still be better than the Los Angeles Lakers, despite the Russell Westbrook acquisition.

The LA Clippers will be just fine. The reason Laker fans blamed injuries, and not point guard play for their failures last year is because their point guard play wasn’t the problem.

Their problem was their mental weakness. The Clippers had far more injuries than the Lakers did last year, and still made it to the Western Conference Finals, and made it a competitive series vs. the Suns.

The Lakers had Anthony Davis hurt in the postseason. The Clippers had Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka, and Ivica Zubac down. And take a look at this from one of my previous articles:

"“Injuries have ravaged the Clippers all season. It wasn’t just in the playoffs, but the regular season as well. Leonard missed 20 regular season games, Paul George was out for 18, Patrick Beverley missed 35, Marcus Morris went out for 15, and Ibaka was hurt for 31.”"

When we faced injuries, we toughened up, and went with a ‘next man up’ mentality. When the Lakers faced far fewer injuries, they sat around crying about it.

Does Westbrook specialize in wiping tears? If so, then it’s a huge get for the Lakers. If not, I’m not sold.

Let’s face it; Westbrook has been a legitimately awful three-point shooter these last four years. He’s shot 29.2% in that time frame.

That’s not the worst thing, but when it’s a huge part of his game (Westbrook has averaged 4.4 three-point attempts per contest in these last four years), it’s not good. He’s not efficient at all.

Take a look at his 65.6% free throw percentage this year. I’m okay with that from a center, but that’s embarrassing for a point guard.

I don’t hate Westbrook. He’s a very good player, and averaged career-highs with 11.7 assists per game and 11.5 rebounds per game this year. He also averaged 1.4 steals per game last season.

I do like Westbrook, but not on this team. The Lakers already have a do-it-all, triple-double machine in LeBron James. I of course see the potential in adding another, but not when someone is as inefficient offensively as Westbrook.

Westbrook attempting so many field goals all game is going to take away from LeBron’s opportunities, and LeBron is the much more efficient shooter. I thought we already saw how using Westbrook along with another ball-dominant scorer worked out when Westbrook was in Houston.

Getting a driver like Westbrook isn’t good for the Lakers’ court spacing.

He doesn’t have a complimentary skillset to James. Westbrook could work really well on many teams, but not on the Lakers.

Also, take a look at what Washington got in return from Westbrook (via Jonathan Abrams of The New York Times):

"As part of the trade, Washington will receive Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, forward Montrezl Harrell, guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the draft rights to Kentucky’s Isaiah Jackson, whom the Lakers selected with the No. 22 overall pick on Thursday. The Wizards will also send two future second-round draft picks to the Lakers."

They totally gutted their depth.

For a team that blamed their season on injuries, one would think they’d want to not lose their depth, but improve on it so that injuries don’t affect them all too hard. Especially considering Davis’ availability has been a problem for a while now.

And while we’re on the subject, let’s not forget that Phoenix’s Chris Paul, who’s better than AD, was hurt the entire series vs. the Lakers, not just the last three games like Davis. Every team has injuries. The best teams, however, find ways to acquire depth so they can deal with that.

The Lakers don’t have much depth now.

And they’re going to be paying Westbrook a lot of money. They won’t have as many resources to go after depth at this point.

They’re still improved as a team with this move. However, they reached for star power in a situation where they have clear needs on this roster that this trade does not address.

I don’t think the Lakers are a first round exit anymore, but I still have the Clippers winning the West. The Clips have a much deeper roster than the Lakers, and even made the Western Conference Finals this year without Kawhi.

dark. Next. 3 free agents to stay away from

Good on the Lakers for improving their roster, but it doesn’t address what the Lakers need in order to truly take a significant step next year and go back to competing for the West.