During an interview with The Athletic, Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss claimed Russell Westbrook was the team's "best player" last season. That statement is not only delusional, it's also borderline insane. Someone must have gotten in her ear about it, because Buss rapidly walked that take back.
Here's what Buss said about Westbrook, who had what was, unequivocally, the worst season of his career:
"All I can say is that, from my point of view, (Westbrook) was our best player last year. He played pretty much every single game, showed up, worked hard. You know, I would have loved to have seen what this team would have looked like if they stayed healthy. It’s really tough to win when Anthony Davis isn’t on the court. LeBron was hurt a lot of the season. But Russ showed up every game and played hard every night. And, you know, I just really appreciate him for who he is and what he brings to the team."
That's just ... a bonkers statement that has no connection to reality.
During the 2021-22 season, Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.1 assists and 7.4 rebounds in 34.3 minutes per game. Yes, his counting stats look good on paper but a deeper dive reveals why he was so bad. His PER of 15.01 was the lowest of his 14-year career, and his true shooting percentage of 51.2 was also really bad. His turnover rate (13.1) was his highest since his rookie season and his value over replacement player mark of 0.2 was the lowest of his career. He was terrible and had arguably the most disappointing season in the NBA.
The Athletic's Sam Amick was taken aback by the comment and reached out to Buss to follow up on her praise of Westbrook. She quickly backtracked from her initial praise.
Amick detailed the exchange:
After Buss made the Westbrook comment, Athletic writer Sam Amick called her back since he was taken aback by the comment. Buss quickly backtracked. Here's what Amick wrote:
Yes, as you might imagine, I did a double take when Jeanie shared her viewpoint that Westbrook was the best the Lakers had to offer last season. By most accounts — yours truly included — his debut season with the Lakers was an unmitigated disaster.
So after the interview ended, when I realized that I’d failed to follow up quickly enough to get total clarity on this stunning take, I decided to send Buss a note asking if this was her actual belief.
The word I should have used was ‘consistent,’” she wrote via text message. “He played 78 games last season.”
The point, it seems, is this: LeBron only played 59 games because of a late-season left ankle injury, while Davis (left knee injury; right ankle) logged just 40 games (after playing just 36 the season prior). If those two aren’t available, the Lakers have no shot at being a playoff team — let alone legitimate contenders. For better or worse, at least Westbrook was able to stay on the floor.
Yeah that's a quick retreat and for good reason. Westbrook was, indeed, consistent. Consistently bad.