With so many guards on the roster, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham has to find ways to get them minutes during the 2022-23 season.
Russell Westbrook seemed penciled in to start for the team, but ahead of their preseason finale against the Sacramento Kings, Ham decided to bring the former MVP off the bench. The news caused a stir as it was a move that some predicted wouldn’t go over well with Westbrook, who has historically been dismissive of the idea of him coming off the bench.
After their blowout loss to the Kings, LeBron James admitted he didn’t have much of a thought when it came to Westbrook’s move to the bench, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I really don’t have an opinion. I think whatever it takes for our team to be as well-equipped and for guys to feel as comfortable as possible. I think it was just something for us to look at tonight. It wasn’t something that’s set in stone, but I’m also not sure how everyday to put the guys in position to be successful when I’m on the floor no matter who’s out on the floor. Russ is gonna be a big piece for our club no matter…I mean, whatever role that he has and the rest of us. We all have to be ready for whatever.”
James added that the decision speaks to how many different lineups Los Angeles can throw out on any given night though he did concede that it’s hard to tell what might work with so many injuries:
“Well I think we have the ability to go to many lineups and Coach has done a great job so far just kind of mix matching lineups and seeing I guess what he sees that’s gonna best fit us once the regular season starts. But we won’t know, honestly, until we become whole. Injuries obviously is a part of the game, but we’ll know once we get fully healthy and everybody’s back in uniform and ready to go.”
The experiment never bore fruit as Westbrook left the game early with a hamstring injury, so it’s hard to say whether the move will stick. However, Ham praised Westbrook for being cooperative and even suggested that the door isn’t closed on him starting.
It’s unclear whether or not Westbrook will be cleared to play Opening Night, but if he is it’ll be interesting to see how he’s utilized.
Lakers worried Dennis Schroder could be out long-term with finger injury
The injury bug has already hit the Lakers before the 2022-23 season begins as the team announced Dennis Schroder is dealing with a finger injury. There’s reportedly some concern that the injury could keep him out long-term, though nothing has been confirmed quite yet.
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