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LeBron James and Frank Vogel are not concerned about Russell Westbrook’s rocky Lakers debut: “It’s a game”

Russell Westbrook made his debut for the Lakers on Tuesday night at the start of the 2021-22 NBA season. His first game was not pretty.

Westbrook struggled in the Lakers’ 121-114 loss to the Warriors. He totaled just 8 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists while shooting 4 of 13 from the field. He missed all four 3-pointers he attempted and totaled a minus-23 score for the game, either team’s worst score.

After the game, Lakers executives, including head coach Frank Vogel and star LeBron James, expressed confidence that Westbrook would find his way. After all, it’s just a “game,” as James pointed out.

“We want to learn from it, we want to improve ourselves, but we will not insist too much on it”, James told reporters on the loss. “We will improve, he will improve. We will put him in positions where it benefits him and our team. I think we will continue to learn that as the season progresses.”

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Westbrook is on a bit of a learning curve. As Vogel noted, he’s transitioning from being a guy to being the third-wheeler of the Lakers’ “Big 3”.

“Him more than anyone, it’s going to be a period of adaptation”, Vogel told reporters. “He fits into our culture, our system and he’s the new guy. And he has to find his way. It’s tough when you’re used to being the guy with the ball most nights so you can play against d ‘. others like LeBron and AD, so it’s just a little different for him. He’s going to be great for us, but it’s going to be a period of adjustment. “

Westbrook is used to having more playing opportunities than Tuesday night. He posted a usage rate – a metric that measures the percentage of a player’s plays that ended in a field goal attempt, free throw attempt, or turnover – of 32.5% during his career. The NBA average is 20%, although it is higher for pointers and star players as they have the ball in their hands more often.

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However, Westbrook posted a use rate of just 18.5% on his first outing with the Lakers, as James and Anthony Davis had a lot of the ball in their hands and finished with use rates of 32.2. % (James) and 29.6% (Davis) respectively. . Westbrook will have to get used to having the ball in his hands less than normal, which Vogel says will come once he feels a bit fitter with the team.

“He just needs the time. He just needs the floor minutes with these guys,” Vogel said. “We haven’t had a lot of that in the preseason because we have a veteran squad, and he just needs time. The more we’re on the pitch together, the more we watch the movie together the next day, it will become. more and more comfortable. “

James agreed with Vogel and also noted the pressure exerted on Westbrook both externally and internally in his first game with the Lakers,

“I think it was just the nervousness of the first game,” said James. “There was probably a lot going on in his head, just being a kid from LA, watching the Lakers grow up, and then a few years later put on a Laker uniform and walk into the Staples Center. I can only imagine how many friends and family and contacts that he was craving to come and see his first game as a Laker, so these things, these requests, these requests and these people end as the season progresses.

“So I don’t worry about Russ at all. He just needs to be himself.”

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James isn’t worried about the Lakers either. He knows they will come together as the season progresses.

“It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not instant oatmeal. It’s a process,” James said of the Lakers coming together as a team. “You have to improve, you have to see things that not only benefit you throughout the game and the season, but what benefits the team.”

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