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The Los Angeles Lakers could learn something from DeMar DeRozan.
Not as much as they might have had if their offseason dating had manifested in a formal partnership, but there is still something of value.
As the Lakers struggle to gain ground with the best player they’ve retired from the 2021 NBA offseason, Russell Westbrook, DeRozan is playing a pivotal role in the Chicago Bulls’ rise in the Eastern Conference standings.
“He’s incredibly balanced,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan told reporters. “He doesn’t go haywire at all. And I think he’s great for our team. To have a guy like DeMar out there, who plays with rhythm and rhythm and balance, you never take him away from that. ‘he does. “
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DeRozan came to Chicago with a long, productive career behind him, but it wasn’t clear what kind of impact he could have. His numbers didn’t always translate into a win, his lack of an outside jumper threatened to spoil offensive spacing, and his defensive record did little to comfort anyone worried about that end of the pitch.
Sound familiar to you, Lakers fans?
The parallels between DeRozan and Westbrook aren’t hard to spot. They are LA natives in their 30s who work best with basketball in their hands, make most of their scoring inside the arc and often leave something to be desired on defense.
Where the similarities end, however, is with their respective seasons.
DeRozan, whose Bulls face the Lakers at Staples Center on Monday night, has his fingerprints all over Chicago’s rapid rise. Westbrook, meanwhile, can’t get himself or his team out of first gear.
He was awkward on the pitch even before donning his new purple and gold threads, but his biggest skeptics may not have seen that coming. It is one thing to experience growing pains; It’s another to make your team 13.2 points worse per 100 possessions just by speaking up, as Westbrook has done so far, according to NBA.com.
It should be noted, of course, that the sample size is tiny. The Lakers are only preparing for their 15th game of the young season. LeBron James has adapted in just six of them. Kendrick Nunn and Trevor Ariza are still awaiting their season debut.
Give Westbrook more time to get up to speed and get to know his new teammates better, and maybe this is starting to go in the right direction.
“Him more than anyone, it’s going to be a period of adjustment,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel told reporters on October 19. “He’s going into our culture, our system and he’s the new guy. And he’s got to find his way … He’s going to be great for us, but it’s going to be a period of adjustment.”
This is where it counts for nothing DeRozan faced the same adjustments in Chicago and passed all the tests on that front.
Could the same possibly happen for Westbrook? It is possible, if he follows the plan established by DeRozan.
In Chicago, the former Toronto Raptor and San Antonio Spur adapted their game a bit to their new surroundings, but stayed true to what made them great. He’s still aggressively seeking shots (averaging his second highest in a season) and feasting on mid-range jumpers. But he’s also more willing to shoot open three (third more attempts in one season), taking care of basketball and participating as a secondary distributor.
The 6’6 “forward has struck the perfect balance between adapting and being himself. That’s the part of the equation Westbrook hasn’t been able to calculate until now.
The Guardian can’t do everything like he always has, but neither can he fundamentally change who he is. He needs to be more selective with his chances – shooting 42.7% and averaging 5.4 turnovers borders on the unforgivable as a third star in a Big Three – but he can’t pass up the opportunities. that come up.
DeRozan hasn’t become a brand new player, but he might have taken this opportunity and all the support from the scorers to help him do his best. The Lakers can only hope that a similar change is on the horizon for Westbrook.