The Los Angeles Lakers have seen their recent share of success within the last few years winning a championship In 2020, but after they failed to make the playoffs in 2022, incumbent head coach Frank Vogel was let go, and in came Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, One of the first personnel moves that Ham made was to bring in former NNBA All-Star and champion Rasheed Wallace in as an assistant coach. Now, fans and pundits alike are going back to some comments that Wallace made about current Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook.

About a year ago on ESPN’s The Jump, Wallace came on to discuss the then-Washington Wizards point guard and his recent good form of play. Wallace stated that Westbrook was a the time “the best player in the NBA.” His declaration came to the surprise of panelists Rachel Nichols, Richard Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins, who offered Stephen Curry, Nikola Jokic and others as alternatives to the mantle of the best player in the NBA. “Did anybody else just read those numbers that were put up?” he asked. “I mean, goodness gracious, this man is right now — I gotta say, Russ is the best player in the NBA right now. That’s no disrespect to KD, Kyrie, and LeBron. But, aye, right now… what this kid is doing?” Wallace offered. Jefferson highlighted the outlandish claim Wallace had made and the potential internet reaction. “Oh, ‘Sheed, you’re about to go viral,” Jefferson said. “You don’t even know. They’re gonna love that statement.”

Westbrook has become an alienated part of the Lakers’ Big Three – the other two being Anthony Davis and LeBron James – that failed to see success this season. The former MVP had one of the worst seasons of his career and had become one of the scapegoats for the Lakers’ disappointing season. Many believed that the All-Star point guard would demand a trade this offseason, but with the hiring of Ham, and now Wallace, Westbrook will seem to have a larger role within the team.

In his introductory press conference, Ham highlighted what he believed would be Westbrook’s importance next season, “Russ is one of the best players our league has ever seen and still has a ton left in that tank. I don’t know why people tend to try to write him off. I’m going to approach him like I do every player I’ve ever encountered. We’re going to talk about our running habits with the ball, without the ball. And, again, the team, the rhythm of the team and trying to establish a rhythm with LeBron, Russ and AD and, again, shared the load defensively and offensively.”

Westbrook turns 34 next season and will be owed about $44.2 million next season.

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