According to the Lakers, they are concerned about Russell Westbrook’s playoff viability, which should have been obvious

According to the Lakers, they are concerned about Russell Westbrook’s playoff viability, which should have been obvious

The Los Angeles Lakersagainst all odds, they have found a way to maximize Russell Westbrook in the regular season. It can be him a little overrated, but at least he’s actively contributing to a Lakers team that spent an entire offseason trying to change him. Without his play, they might not have been able to stay afloat when they were star-less lebron james i Anthony Davis. As a regular season player, he has been solid.

But ultimately, the Lakers will judge themselves in the postseason, and that’s where the concerns surrounding Westbrook expand. The Lakers are not immune to these concerns. Seconds Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus, the Lakers have concerns about Westbrook’s viability in the postseason. Whether or not that will lead to a trade before the deadline is unclear, but those concerns should have been apparent even before they were traded for him in the first place.

In the 2020 Orlando bubble, the Lakers faced Westbrook Houston Rockets and won in large part because of the weaknesses that now concern the Lakers. Even though Westbrook was limping, they doubled aggressively James Harden using Westbrook’s man knowing Westbrook couldn’t beat them from deep. He shot 7-for-27 from 3-point range in a five-game loss to the Lakers, and nearly averaged more turnovers (4.2) than assists (5) for the series.

The same principle would apply to the Lakers this season. A frequent problem for them late in games is how opponents defend the LeBron James-Anthony Davis pick-and-roll. Knowing that Westbrook won’t beat them from deep, they’ll defend him with their center, who will simply ignore him and wait for James and Davis at the rim. This functionally allows opponents to defend the top two Lakers with three men. The team he doesn’t have it yet find a sustainable answer.

Of course, there’s another question the Lakers need to answer before they even begin to consider the viability of the postseason: Can they even make the playoffs? At 23-28, they would need to win roughly 58 percent of their remaining games just to get to .500. Even if they can sneak into the top 10 of the Western Conference, they would have to win at least one, if not two, playoff games just to be able to match up with the No. 1 seed in the first round.

The commercial deadline is nine days. The Lakers, currently on an East Coast road trip, need to use this time to prove to the front office that they are even good enough to warrant postseason consideration. If they are, it looks like a Westbrook trade is still possible. Their $47 million expiring salary, combined with one or both of their available first-round picks, could give them the kind of shooters and defenders needed for playoff viability. Otherwise, it will matter little if they make the postseason or not. As long as Westbrook is a big part of this roster, it’s just not viable for a postseason run.

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