Russell Westbrook being a candidate for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award? Sounds crazy, right?
It certainly would’ve sounded bonkers throughout last season and the first few games of this season, as he struggled and fans were begging for him to be benched.
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham finally gave in and moved Westbrook to the bench in last week’s contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Although the former league MVP didn’t shoot well, he showed promise in his new role.
In the last two games, Westbrook has averaged 15.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game while shooting 54.5 percent overall and 37.5 percent from 3-point range. In doing so, he has resembled the Westbrook Lakers fans have been hoping they would be getting, and not coincidentally, the team won both contests.
Ham said after Wednesday’s win against the New Orleans Pelicans that he wants Westbrook to be in the running for the Sixth Man of the Year award.
“One of my goals selfishly is to get him in the Sixth Man of the Year conversation,” Ham said. “And why not start now? We were dragging in the mud early in the game and he came in and gave us a huge, huge boost. So his fingerprints were definitely all over this game in a positive, productive manner.”
As a bench player, Westbrook has given L.A. a very healthy dose of energy, pace and fast-break basketball, which are all qualities it greatly lacked last season.
Turnovers have continued to be an issue for him, as he has combined to commit 14 turnovers in the last three games. But if he continues to be efficient offensively, and especially if he lowers his turnover rate, perhaps he could get some consideration for the award if the Lakers become a legitimate playoff team.
It seems cuckoo at this time, but stranger things have happened in the crazy world of pro sports.