This summer, the Los Angeles Lakers struck a blockbuster deal that landed them star point guard Russell Westbrook. The trade sent shockwaves around the league and gave the franchise a primary ball-handler, as well as someone to ease the loads of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The 32-year-old, nine-time All-Star spent last season with the Wizards and broke the all-time career triple-double record with the franchise. He provided Washington with a spark in the second-half of the year that carried the team all the way to the postseason, but never quite had the opportunity to compete for anything more. Los Angeles presented him with an opportunity to chase his first NBA championship and he took it.
Now that preseason training camp has begun, the Lakers have gotten their first full glimpse at Westbrook. Already, head coach Frank Vogel likes what he sees.
During Los Angeles' first practice of training camp on Wednesday, Vogel shared that Westbrook's in-person speed jumped out at him immediately. The Lakers head coach said that is was "noticeable" how much faster the 32-year-old looked up close as he diced apart whatever defense his teammates threw at him.
"He's just a blur out there..." Vogel said on Wednesday,
Frank Vogel says "it's noticeable" how much faster Russ seems in person.
"He's just a blur out there... He was just getting in the paint and finding people for threes all practice long."
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) September 29, 2021
">per Harrison Faigen. "He was just getting in the paint and finding people for threes all practice long.
Vogel's initial assessment of Westbrook should excite Lakers fans who are cautiously optimistic about the point guard's arrival. The 32-year-old might be a nine-time All-Star, but he also carries a fair amount of baggage with him, so many in Los Angeles weren't entirely sure what to make of the the organization's offseason trade.
Westbrook is a polarizing player with his combination of superb athleticism and shocking inefficiency. However, one aspect of the point guard's game that's unquestionable is his motor. Each and each night, he'll be giving 110 percent, no matter what the scoreboard might say.
The Lakers could use a player with an edge like Westbrook and he'll be important for Los Angeles throughout the regular season. Come playoff time is when the Lakers will find out exactly what they have with the nine-time All-Star as they pursue a second championship trophy in three years.