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Lakers News: Shaquille O'Neal Has A Russell Westbrook Hot Take

The Big Aristotle says Russell Westbrook is a role player.

The Lakers are one game into the 2021-22 NBA season, and the prognostications are already through the roof. The Lakers' newest point guard Russell Westbrook had one clunker of a game and the entirety of the NBA community was out for blood. 

Recently, Laker legend Shaquille O'Neal chatted with the LA Times and had a little bit to say about Westbrook. 

“They still need role players, right? I see Russ as a role player, a damned good one, but he’s a role player. It’s LeBron [James] first, AD (Anthony Davis) second, and then Russ. He can get his stuff on the break.”

Westbrook is a 9x All-Star, 2x scoring champion, and a former MVP. O'Neal may have ruffled some feathers by saying this about Westbrook, but perhaps some additional context is needed. 

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Not to get too semantic, but we are all 'role players.' In the NBA, this phrase has defined itself as a player who is not a superstar but has one specific job to do on the court. Inescapably by logic, with three superstars in starting roles, someone is going to have to take a backseat at times. Despite having a rough first game, nobody seems to have noticed that Westbrook is already being unselfish and doing just that.

In the Lakers' first game, Westbrook's shot selection was solid. People pay attention only to the missed shots, but Westbrook took almost exclusively open shots. Westbrook made the correct passes. He wasn't trying to rack up assists. He passed to the open man and did his best to move the offense. 

O'Neal's point is a good one. Westbrook should look to get his numbers on the fast break as much as possible. He's shown during his career to be one of the best players to ever run a break. Westbrook should also be considered to run the second unit, in my opinion. Westbrook is a playmaker, and that's where he'll make the most plays.