LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Star guard Russell Westbrook says his role with his new Los Angeles Lakers teammates will be simple – and it includes making things easier for superstar LeBron James.
The Lakers landed the Westbrook in a blockbuster deal with the Washington Wizards with hopes of a “Big Three” lineup of James, Westbrook and Anthony Davis could push them back to the top in 2022 after they relinquished the NBA title in 2021.
On Tuesday Westbrook was officially introduced, the Southern California native saying it was a “blessing” to land in Los Angeles where had many memories of Lakers glory.
“I’m coming to a championship caliber team and my job is make sure that I’m able to make (James’s) game easy for him, and I’ll find ways to do that throughout the game,” Westbrook vowed.
“As it pertains to ball handling and all that, it really doesn’t matter. There are many different ways you can impact the game without having the ball in your hands.”
James and Davis led the Lakers to the 2019 NBA title, but their push for a repeat was hindered by injury.
Westbrook ws the 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player with Oklahoma City, where he played from 2008 through 2019.
He was traded to Houston then traded last December to Washington, where he helped the Wizards reach the playoffs for the first time since 2018.
The Nine-time NBA All-Star, who won Olympic gold in 2012, has led the NBA in assists in three of the past four seasons and was the league scoring champion in 2015 and 2017.
In 2017 he set a record with 42 triple doubles in a season — amassing double-digit stats in points, assists and rebounds — in 42 games — and joined Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple double for a full campaign.
Westbrook managed the feat in three of the next four seasons as well, his record career tally of triple doubles now standing at 184.
But despite the relentless Westbrook’s all-around excellence, his teams have combined to win just one playoff series in the last five years.
Some pundits have wondered how he’ll mesh with James and Davis.
Westbrook said that won’t be a problem.
“I’m always looking at the roster and seeing how I can make other guys better,” he said.