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Why would Jeanie Buss call Russell Westbrook the Lakers best player when he wasnt?

Though her comments and subsequent clarification have certainly drawn attention, the reality is the Lakers could be stuck with Westbrook. What then?

Why would Jeanie Buss call Russell Westbrook the Lakers best player when he wasnt?
Danny MoloshokREUTERS

In what has got to be considered a bizarre choice of words, the franchise’s owner referred to the under-fire point guard as the team’s best player last season, when general consensus suggests he was quite the opposite.

Jeanie Buss calls Russell Westbrook Lakers’ best player

Let’s be clear, Russell Westbrook’s debut season with the Los Angeles Lakers was disastrous. Hopes were high, when the former MVP joined the Lakers after a season in which they were crowned NBA champions. Hence the irony of his central role in their downfall during the last campaign, which ended with them failing to make the playoffs. Since that debacle, the Lakers have essentially tried everything they can think of to offload Westbrook to another team, but the problem is his $47 million salary which no team seems prepared to absorb.

This of course, is all just pretext to franchise owner Jeanie Buss’ recent comments which were strange to say the least. Indeed, speaking in a recent interview, Buss hit back at critics who say Westbrook’s first season with the Lakers was terrible. What’s more is that Buss actually went further than any advocate for the devil would likely be willing to. “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.”

A question of Clarity: Jeanie Buss walks back on Westbrook

Interestingly, Buss was not pressed on her comments during the interview, but was later sent a message in which she was asked to clarify her description of Westbrook. “The word I should have used was ‘consistent,’” she wrote via text message. “He played 78 games last season.”

Here’s the thing as any sports fan can appreciate, it comes down to where do you place emphasis. On one side some prefer to romanticize athletes, teams and performances and on the other you have those who stick to statistics. In Westbrook’s case, while he did play an admirable 78 games last season, he also averaged the fewest his lowest points tally since the 2009-10 season with 18.5, shot under 30% from beyond the arc, led the Lakers in turnovers per game and was consistently found wanting on defense. We leave it to you to decide. At any rate, it makes perfect sense that the Lakers would try to highlight the positives - if any - in a player that they’re actively trying to trade. Yet, it should be said that with LeBron James almost winning the scoring title, there is no need to offend reason to do so.