With 18 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists off the bench, Russell Westbrook was instrumental in the Lakers’ first win against the Nuggets.
For Darvin Ham, this is the ultimate proof that it’s a win/win. Russell Westbrook can be himself as a 6th man, with a “second unit”, and the Lakers win this arrangement.
With Russell Westbrook untradeable, both parties have no choice but to find a compromise. As a holder, Russell Westbrook is useless because he doesn’t have the ball. As the 6th man, he regains control of the game, and does what he used to do, surrounded by youngsters and “role players”. For his coach, starting from the bench allows, paradoxically, Russell Westbrook to find his rhythm.
“I told him, ‘You will succeed. Trust me. Believe in me’. I always told him, that sacrifice, from a player of your stature, it will send a message. said the Lakers coach. “It will help our team and I told him not to look like we’re taking him out of the five. If I remember correctly, he finished the game right? So if I put him in a situation where he comes off the bench, he helps us in so many areas through points, rebounds, assists and he gives confidence to others, Austin and others like Matt and Wenyen. So, in my opinion, it is perfect for our group because it is made to be in this role and then get its rhythm. Then when LeBron and AD are back on the court, he’s in a better mood, and that’s a good compromise because he’s playing and he’s productive at a high level. »
What other MVP, barring a serious or career-ending injury, has come off the bench?
Before Russell Westbrook, who other former MVP agreed to be the 6th man? Allen Iverson is there, but it’s to revive his career in Memphis, and it’s been bad… Derrick Rose is there, but it’s because of his injuries. Even Shaq, when he was a shadow of his MVP self, never came off the bench.
As for Bill Walton and Magic Johnson, they are either at the end of their careers or returning after long absences. When Bill Walton became the first MVP to win the best 6th man trophy in 1986, he played less than 20 minutes per game in Boston, and he has almost had three blank seasons since his best player trophy. As for Bob McAdoo, who will be an important sixth man on the Lakers after being MVP with the Buffalo Braves, multiple injuries and his reputation as a soloist have landed him on the bench.
In the end, Russell Westbrook seems to be the first MVP to agree to come off the bench, without a serious injury, and therefore sends a message to the rest of the workforce.
“Once on the bench, others tell themselves that they cannot return to the game to undo what has been done” continued the coach of the Lakers. “I’m so happy for him, he’s been phenomenal in the last two games, in Minnesota and on Sunday. He was amazing and that’s why I’m so happy. I can’t imagine what this kid went through… One of the biggest reasons I got this job was to make sure he got the respect he deserved. Much of what happened last year was not his fault, yet it was all blamed on him. I told him to listen to me, to believe in me: ‘I will put you in a position to succeed in the group but you have to put the group first’. We cannot reason with “I” or “me”. It should be “we”. And that’s what he did. » It remains to be seen if he will accept it full time…
|2016-17 ★||GO ON||81||35||42.5||34.3||84.5||1.7||9.0||10.7||10.4||2.4||1.6||5.4||0.4||31.6|