The Russell Westbrook experiment has been a disaster in Los Angeles, but, despite what we've seen on the court, it's not his fault.
The blame falls on the Lakers, not Westbrook.
Fueled by their desperate attempt to try and squeeze another championship out of their aging, blindly thrown together roster, the Lakers' front office made a move that had very little chance of working, while tying them down for the foreseeable future with whatever result came from it.
The Lakers knew who Westbrook was, they've had 13 years of a resume to look at, and they made this trade anyway.
Now they have to live with the chaotic results.
Why should anyone be surprised when this team looks completely lost together on the court?
I've never been a fan of Westbrook's game. It's an inefficient roller coaster that fills box scores with empty calorie stats that mean very little to the end result. I saw plenty of it for a year in Washington, when I was covering D.C. sports on a daily basis, having to deal with fans arguing that the triple-doubles meant he was doing "everything" to help the team win.
This is so far from the truth.
Yes, he plays hard every night. Yes, he wants to win. So do hundreds of other players around the league. The difference with so many others is they don't play so red-hot angry that they make horrible decisions on the court that eventually sabotage their own team.
Westbrook took a lot of heat for this recent comment, which honestly, is Russ in a nutshell:
"Honestly, I think I've been fine," Westbrook said, per ABC. "The conversation has been heavily on how I'm playing and what I'm doing, but I think people are expecting me to have f---ing 25, 15 and 15, which, that is not normal. Everybody has to understand, like, that's not a normal thing that people do consistently. I know I've done it the past five years, but that's not normal."
Notice how he throws that part about how he's done something he considers "not normal"? That translates to "sure no one else does this, but I have before, so praise me when I do and pay no attention to when I don't."
Actually, Russ, people don't want 25, 15, and 15, they want you to not shoot 4-of-20 turning the ball over with sloppy mistakes while missing layups with wide-open teammates standing around.
Stat stuffers don't make teams better, and the Lakers thought they could cram him onto this team and he'd alter the way he plays to help them win. James Harden did it in Brooklyn, but that's not who Westbrook is, and they were naive and desperate to think he'd change, as their championship odds continue to fall.
Just look at his playoff history. Westbrook has only made it out of the first round once since Kevin Durant left OKC in 2016, and that was with Harden in Houston. Westbrook has shot just 38 percent in the postseason during that time, including a miserable 29 percent from 3, and was knocked out in the first round in just five games in three of those five playoff series.
A ball-dominant stat-stuffer that's too rigid to alter his approach wasn't going to make you better, and now the Lakers are paying for it. Forget trade rumors, no one wants to be tied to Westbrook's massive contract until 2023, it's why Washington was ready to move on after just one year.
The Lakers are in a "what have you done for me lately" market, and that brings a "win at all costs" mentality. The issue with that though, is sometimes it blinds you from reality like a deer staring at oncoming headlights. There weren't many options for improving this team, Westbrook was available, and it gave them another star to wedge into their pieced-together roster.
Talent means nothing without chemistry, just like stats mean nothing without wins.
In that way, the Lakers were a perfect match, but in the end, they're getting the result we all saw coming, and the Lakers can't do anything to change it.