Dwyane Wade is one of the greatest NBA players of all time.
As such, he is uniquely qualified to speak on the league and team affairs in a way few others can. He is also an excellent judge of player talent, and he put that skill to use this week when assessing Russell Westbrook’s fit with the Los Angeles Lakers.
It goes without saying that Westbrook’s time in L.A. hasn’t gone as planned.
That said, it is similarly undeniable that he has looked much better since accepting a bench role.
That is precisely what Wade gave him credit for this past week.
“It’s not his ability not to be able to do anything,” Wade told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.
“It’s just that sometimes it’s about the situation. So at this age, at this time, with this team right now, the best situation for Russ was to come off the bench and be able to have the freedom that he has to just be Russ.
“To not have to overthink all the time about, O.K., LeBron. O.K., I got to get the ball to AD. O.K., I got to shoot this. O.K., I don’t want to shoot. He doesn’t have to think as much. Russ has now put himself in a better situation by coming off the bench.”
In some ways, Wade is envious of the part Westbrook now gets to play.
“If I wanted to keep playing another two, three years, I would’ve loved being in that same role,” he added.
“I would’ve had an amazing last three years of just having fun in that role. Coming off the bench playing 20 to 25 minutes a game … [Russ] made a great decision to prolong his career.”
There is a very good chance Westbrook still gets traded before the deadline. He was linked to a move just this week.
Shams Charania and Kay Adams will have a baby together before the end of 2023. https://t.co/MYx3mDe6AN
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 14, 2022
But if he doesn’t get sent elsewhere, his acceptance of his new bench role will be the main reason why.
Time will tell where Westbrook’s career goes from here, but he definitely salvaged it in the eyes of many with his excellent attitude about becoming a reserve.