Throughout his introductory press convention earlier this month, new Lakers ahead Carmelo Anthony was requested when he had really accepted the thought of coming off the bench and dedicated to contributing in that position. He informed reporters that it did not occur till final season when he began solely three of 69 video games for the Path Blazers. It wasn’t a simple transition for the long run Corridor of Famer, however he embraced the brand new problem, averaging 13.4 factors per sport whereas taking pictures a career-high 40.9 % from 3-point vary.
“You go 16, 17 years, and you are the man on the staff. You are the star,” Anthony mentioned. “Then, all the sudden, someone’s like, ‘Hear, come off the bench.’ I needed to swallow that ego. I needed to swallow that satisfaction. However I additionally had to make use of that ego and that satisfaction to maintain me on edge and preserve me motivated. I’ve accepted that. It performed out properly in Portland. That was my first time doing it and experiencing that at that stage.”
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Anthony has come a good distance since his notorious 2017 media day look with the Thunder when he answered a query about being a reserve by jokingly saying, “Who me?” He has run the NBA gamut, going from franchise participant in Denver and New York, to secondary possibility in Oklahoma Metropolis and Houston, to utterly out of the league.
“Ego is checked. My ego has been checked as a result of I perceive it is all about having perspective in your state of affairs,” Anthony mentioned. “Once more, most issues, a number of issues on this league, it isn’t in our management. We have gotta management what we are able to management, and I’ve realized that through the years.”
Russell Westbrook, one other offseason addition for the Lakers and Anthony’s former teammate, is aware of a factor or two about management. He’s a person who has been explicit about his method, model, parking spot and pregame sandwiches. To ensure that Los Angeles to succeed in its full potential, although, Westbrook should be taught from Anthony and relinquish some on-court management to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the dynamic duo hoping to hold one other championship banner within the Staples Middle.
When posed with questions on becoming alongside James and Davis throughout his personal introductory press convention, Westbrook disregarded any considerations.
“Me being their teammate, my job is to return in and uplift them, they usually’ll do the identical with me, vice versa. Because the season prolongs, we are going to determine it out,” Westbrook mentioned. “There will probably be ups. There will probably be downs. That is regular. That is OK. We are going to work out the way to play one of the best ways that we need to play to have the ability to win a championship.”
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Westbrook is undeniably proficient and hard-working, and he genuinely cares. That should not be dismissed. The issue is that, thus far in his profession, Westbrook merely hasn’t “figured it out.”
As a rookie with the Thunder again in 2008-09, Westbrook completed third on the staff in subject purpose makes an attempt. He has been first or second in each different season in his profession, typically taking pictures extra continuously than even famous person teammates corresponding to Kevin Durant and James Harden. Westbrook by no means thinks twice about launching from deep regardless of being the least correct high-volume 3-point shooter in NBA historical past.
Whereas he will probably be a key offensive creator for the Lakers, Westbrook should acknowledge a contested leap shot is a wasted possession when he has dynamic scorers like James and Davis on the ground. Meaning studying to weaponize his pace and athleticism with decisive strikes off the catch, cuts to the basket and pick-and-roll actions. He may also be required to tackle difficult defensive assignments at occasions after Los Angeles misplaced robust perimeter stoppers in Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
“As you understand, [James] is among the greatest gamers to play this sport, and his potential to have the ability to type of do every thing on the ground permits me to have the ability to simply determine it out,” Westbrook mentioned. “I am coming to a championship-caliber staff, and my job is to make it possible for I will make his sport simple for him.”
Once more, “simply determine it out” — not as simple because it sounds. However Westbrook has somebody within the locker room who really did the work. Anthony ceded the highlight to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in Portland and took much less subject purpose makes an attempt than Gary Trent Jr. and Norman Powell final season. Anthony wasn’t all the time a team-first man — simply ask George Karl — however he has completely proven a willingness to sacrifice the previous couple years.
He hasn’t hit the identical lows as Anthony, however Westbrook hasn’t precisely been on a run of sustained success. He turned the primary MVP to be traded in three straight offseasons this summer season, and he hasn’t made it past the second spherical of the NBA playoffs since 2016, his final season with Durant, who went on to win a number of titles as a member of the Warriors.
There’s motive to be skeptical. Maybe Westbrook is incapable of main change. It is a new stage and set of circumstances for him, although, and as Anthony famous, age and expertise can result in higher understanding.
“I feel we’re all simply able to tackle no matter position that’s that every one of us must do or must tackle with a view to attain that final purpose,” Anthony mentioned. “Which everyone knows what that’s at this level.”
Anthony realized the arduous manner that with a view to keep away from an undesirable consequence, the answer was to look inward and alter himself. Can Westbrook do the identical?