The Lakers have just 34 games to figure out how to put things together. And while they will be getting Anthony Davis back soon(hopefully tonight), they still have other areas where they need to greatly improve.
One area in particular is the usage of Russell Westbrook. It's been a ROUGH month for Russ as media and Lakers fans have started to pile on him. His ice-cold shooting streak made him an easy target to point a finger at for the problems that LA is going through.
Frank Vogel chose to take a little bit of a stand and benched Westbrook in the final 4 minutes of their game against the Pacers last week. That move was sort of controversial given the need for points. But according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, the staff worried about how he would react to being benched.
For weeks, the staff had considered benching Westbrook at a moment like this. Team sources said there was always a concern as to how he'd react to such a move. Would he get defensive, as he often had when he felt like he was being singled out in film sessions? Would it erode the confidence that is so important to his game?
The Lakers staff apparently had that fear based on defensiveness from Russ in film sessions. What exactly he said during those sessions is unknown, but the fact that they're calling it defensiveness during the Lakers sessions is not ideal.
Russ has REALLY struggled over the past month, though his last two games have been better. He put up 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists in the loss to the Heat on Sunday night.
But he's here to stay because the Lakers are not going to be able to move him. They need to figure out the best way to use him, and Vogel cannot be afraid to sit him if the moment calls for it.