The transition of Russell Westbrook from the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers to the comparatively under-the-radar LA Clippers was not just a matter of swapping jerseys but a significant mental shift. Although geographically close, the two franchises are worlds apart in terms of prestige and expectations.
Despite this dramatic change, Westbrook expressed genuine appreciation for the chance to continue playing close to his hometown while wearing the Clippers’ colors. He shared his thoughts on his experience thus far during a post-game interview with Tomer Azarly after the team’s victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I’ve had an incredible time and am truly grateful for the opportunity,” Westbrook remarked. “I feel blessed to be in this position, and I’m just going to savor every moment I have with this team, hoping we’ll be playing well into June.”
Russell Westbrook on if joining Clippers is the fresh start he'd hoped it would be:
“It's definitely been a great experience that I'm grateful for & blessed. I'm just going to cherish every moment I have and hopefully we are playing at the end of June."pic.twitter.com/ouHWnl3uKn
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) March 24, 2023
How Russell Westbrook has been faring with the Los Angeles Clippers?
Statistically speaking, Westbrook’s performance with the Clippers has not deviated dramatically from his time with the Lakers. Over 13 games, he has averaged 14.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per contest. Although his overall shooting percentage has improved since leaving the Lakers, his three-point shooting accuracy has declined.
The key distinction between Westbrook’s stints with the two LA teams lies in the expectations placed upon him. When he joined the Lakers, he was traded for crucial contributors from the 2020 championship squad and was expected to be the third superstar alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, propelling the team back into title contention.
Conversely, the Clippers acquired Westbrook from the buyout market, while simultaneously overhauling their entire backcourt during the trade deadline. There was little to no pressure for him to emerge as the third star next to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, allowing him to play in a significantly less scrutinized environment than that of the Lakers.