Lakers News: Sports Psychologist Shooting Expert Breaks Down Russell Westbrook’s Jumper

“Shooting Out Of Your Mind” author Dr. Rob Smith has some thoughts.

It’s no secret that Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook has never been a great shooter, but lately his output has fallen off a cliff.

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Through five healthy contests this season, the former nine-time All-Star is averaging 13.4 points (on .343/.200/.708 shooting splits), 7.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.4 steals in 30 minutes per. All these numbers are a far cry from the 15-year vet’s career averages of 22.8 points (on .438/.304/.783 shooting), 8.4 assists and 7.4 boards. 

Los Angeles head coach Darvin Ham has moved Westbrook to the L.A. bench in an effort to get him more engaged offensively, and it certainly seems like, should Westbrook have any kind of extended NBA future now that he’s past his athletic peak, it will be in a reserve role.

Any way you slice it, Westbrook needs to improve as a shooter for this new phase of his NBA career.

Sports psychologist and shooting expert Dr. Rob Smith, author of the essential new instructive workbook “Shooting Out Of Your Mind” (which was praised by none other than legendary San Antonio Spurs/Oklahoma City Thunder coach Chip Engelland!), spoke with this writer about Russell Westbrook’s struggles on offense.

Westbrook’s free-throw shooting has been steadily on the decline since his 2016-17 season. Although Dr. Smith acknowledges that he has never spoken with Westbrook, he recommends Brodie work on his free-throw routine to improve his results from the charity stripe. “He used to walk back to half court between FT’s, but since the NBA rule change in 2017 prohibited players from doing that, it has thrown him off and he has publicly admitted as much.”

As far as a salve for that broken jumper, Dr. Smith posits that Ham and co. should try to convince Westbrook to get into a quicker release so that the resultant shot remains more fluid – instead of waiting until the apex of his jump, which may interfere with the rhythm of the stroke.

“When he takes one step and shoots he’s got a good release, but if he leans in or falls back or as he shoots the shot, oftentimes that can impact his judgment of distance to the rim, thereby affecting shooting accuracy Dr. Smith said. Essentially, Dr. Smith contends that wonders if Westbrook frequently overthinks his shooting, and gets into his own head at some point in the release, which has an adverse impact on how frequently the ball goes into the basket.

“The body listens to the brain [when shooting],” Dr. Smith noted, “so if it’s clouded by internal mind chatter, the body – which knows what to do – suddenly tries to change mid-shot what it would normally do with a quiet mind. As a result, one or all of the 3 key elements of the shot (distance, arc and alignment) can cause you to miss the shot.”

Here’s an informative tutorial proposed by Dr. Smith for how Russ, and all of the Lakers’ lackluster jump shooters this season (which is pretty much all of them), can hone their basic shooting mechanics: 

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