Lakers News: Russell Westbrook Enters NBA Record Books In This Category
The LA sixth man surpassed another former LA point guard on Monday.
Tonight, in an unfortunately undermanned 121-104 road loss to the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers reserve point guard Russell Westbrook carved his way into some heady company, entering the top 10 all-time assist leaders across the NBA and ABA with this dish:
Westbrook’s 10 assists against Brooklyn ultimately moves the 34-year-old vet’s career tally to 8,972 regular season dimes. With that sum, he has now leapt over Gary Payton, to claim the 10th-most assists ever.
Payton, a.k.a. “The Glove,” was known primarily as a ferocious defender (he was a nine-time All-Defensive Teamer and the 1996 Defensive Player of the Year), but he was a heck of an offensive player at his peak, too. That peak, unfortunately for your Los Angeles Lakers, was pretty much over by the time he agreed to a discounted free agency deal to join a star-studded, chemistry-free Lakers club for the 2003-04 NBA season, where he, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal joined forces to lead the Lakers back to the NBA Finals after a year away.
Internal strife, an ill-timed injury to Malone, and the voracious defense of a hungry Detroit Pistons club would ultimately yield a five-game LA demise. Payton would later link up with Shaq again, this time as a reserve behind Jason Williams on the Miami Heat, to win his lone title in 2006.
In a 17-year career, Payton averaged 6.7 assists a night while with the Seattle SuperSonics, Milwaukee Bucks, Lakers, Boston Celtics, and finally Miami.
While Westbrook has entered a new phase of his career in his 15th NBA season, the still-athletic Sixth Man of the Year contender seems likely to play for at least a few more seasons. He’s still averaging 7.5 dimes per game while more or less in his NBA dotage! How high can he climb?
It certainly seems like Brodie will at some point surpass former Detroit Pistons menace Isiah Thomas’s 9,061 career regular season dishes, but matching or bettering Oscar Robertson’s 9,887 could prove to be a tall task.