How Westbrook, Love, Beverley, Jackson are fitting in

Published March 3, 2023, 10:00 AMPolo Bustamante
Polo Bustamante

NBA.com Philippines writer Polo Bustamante reports on these four buyout players and how they’re impacting their respective teams.

The buyout market always reminds me of going to the ukay-ukay. There are tons of options but it all comes down to how the piece of clothing you’re buying fits in with your whole wardrobe. Some players end up being a space-filler on the team and gone by the time the offseason rolls along. Just like a graphic tee you thought you liked.

Other pieces fit perfectly and can elevate your whole wardrobe, just like certain players can with their new teams. Think about how Peja Stojakovic became a valuable floor-spacer for the 2011 Dallas Mavericks on their championship run. Or how Markieff Morris gave the 2020 LA Lakers a versatile forward that fit into their roster seamlessly.

Let’s check out some of the NBA’s bargain bin finds and see how they’re fitting in with their new teams.

Kevin Love, Miami Heat

Love is like a nice, classic jacket. Finding the right one can instantly elevate your wardrobe.

To space the floor around Bam Adebayo, the Heat have had to resort to smaller forwards like Caleb Martin or Jimmy Butler as the power forward of the team. The Heat have become one of the worst rebounding teams in the league (26th in RPG) as a result of their lack of size. The payoff for fielding a smaller lineup hasn’t paid dividends in terms of shooting as they’re also one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the league (28th in 3P%).

Love instantly solves both of these problems. He not only has the size of the legitimate power forward that can start alongside Adebayo, but he also has the rebounding chops to boost Miami’s rebounding problems. More importantly, Love has settled nicely as a 3-point shooting big man capable of hitting shots in any situation. 

That’s a reputation that the defense has to respect. Check out Giannis Antetokounmpo stay home on Love, leaving Brook Lopez on an island against Adebayo in the paint:

Love is also a high-basketball IQ player who can create plays from the perimeter or high post. He’s another playmaker who can be used to hit the team’s numerous shooters or cutters.

Love’s shooting, rebounding, and playmaking will give the Heat a brand new look during the final stretch of the regular season.

Russell Westbrook, LA Clippers

You know that designer piece in the ukay-ukay? The one where you’re not sure how it works with your wardrobe but because it’s a big brand and it’s right there available at a good price, you get it anyway, fit be damned? That’s Russell Westbrook.

After his complicated run with the Lakers, you’d think teams would take their time to properly understand what the Westbrook experience brings to the team right? Well, not the Clippers. All they saw were the designer tags and they went all in on Russ.

It’s hard not to be enticed by a former MVP and triple-double machine like Westbrook on your team. At his best, he gives the Clippers a whole new, more exciting dimension. He’s still a gifted player that can use his speed or strength to punish opposing teams, especially on the open floor. Westbrook’s unli-attack mode should give the Clippers a little bump in their pace (24th) and fast break points (21st) numbers.

But the good also comes with the bad. Because he only has one gear, he can get himself into sticky situations like poor shot selection or awful turnovers. These can happen in the clutch and really hurt a team. Westbrook also isn’t the best defender, even during the peak of his career. He can get lost on defense at times, resulting in his teammates scrambling to save him.

In the final play of regulation in their OT loss against the Sacramento Kings, Westbrook was ball-watching and he lost track of Malik Monk who drilled the game-tying shot.

Westbrook is averaging better numbers in his three games with the Clippers than in his nearly two seasons with the Lakers. Unfortunately, the Clippers are 0-3 with him on board. He’s also been held out of the endgame in their past two losses with Coach Ty Lue opting to go with his more trusted guys. Could this be a case of buyer’s remorse for the Clippers?

Reggie Jackson, Denver Nuggets

Ever had a pair of cargo pants from the ukay? That’s Jackson in the NBA landscape. He’s all about utility. He’s not the flashiest or the most exciting guy, but he’s extremely useful. That’s what a contender like the Denver Nuggets need.

Before Jackson joined the team, the Nuggets were playing Bones Hyland as their first guard off the bench. Hyland definitely has a higher upside than Jackson but he also brought drama that affected team chemistry. Jackson has none of the bells and whistles that Hyland has. But he will play the role given to him.

All the Nuggets needed was a secondary playmaker to relieve Jamal Murray. That’s exactly what Jackson is - nothing more, nothing less.

Patrick Beverley, Chicago Bulls

This was a much-hyped homecoming for the Chicago native. It’s kind of like finding that pair of shoes you used to have as a kid. The sneaker doesn’t fit your style now but the allure of nostalgia was just too undeniable.

After standing pat during the trade deadline, the Bulls made a move too late by signing Beverley after he became a free agent. Beverley is a respected veteran who sets the tone for a team. In his first two games, the Bulls’ defense was noticeably better than it’s been the entire season.

Unfortunately, Beverley doesn’t move the needle for the Bulls. He’s not the same player that he was back in his prime. In fact, the Bulls have a better version of him in Alex Caruso. Beverley will help the Bulls get to the play-in but not much further. He will also take away precious reps from their other young guards, Coby White and Ayo Dossunmu.

At least the Bulls’ social media team got some good content out of it.