After an 0-4 start, the Los Angeles Lakers need to make some changes and it looks like the first will be bringing Russell Westbrook off the bench.
Westbrook hasn’t come off the bench in a regular season game since his rookie season but head coach Darvin Ham has made it clear since the beginning that it is an option they are considering.
Ham tested out using Westbrook as a sixth man in the preseason finale against the Sacramento Kings although it was short-lived as the point guard suffered a hamstring injury just five minutes into his first shift.
Westbrook attributed the injury to not being comfortable coming off the bench, so when the regular season started he was back in the starting lineup.
After playing three games, Westbrook’s hamstring injury popped back up and he was forced to miss Wednesday’s game against the Denver Nuggets.
He is expected to return to the lineup on Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves and it appears Ham will go back to bringing him off the bench. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, this is something the Lakers would like to take a look at for the foreseeable future:
Westbrook coming off the bench is the Lakers' plan for the foreseeable future, sources tell ESPN. They'll see how it goes tonight — barring Anthony Davis needing to sit out with his back. https://t.co/vmTiQQTsKu
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 28, 2022
It will be interesting to see if Westbrook is accepting of this new role considering he previously was uncomfortable coming off the bench.
On paper, it’s a move that makes sense for all parties as it will allow Westbrook to play how he is used to with the ball in his hands, running the team’s second unit. Then in the starting group, LeBron James and Anthony Davis can get some more spacing around them while also sharing the floor with Westbrook at times.
After an 0-4 start, it’s clear that Ham is trying to test out different things to see what works and Westbrook coming off the bench is the latest experiment.
Davis questionable for game against Timberwolves
Whether or not Westbrook starts or comes off the bench on Friday depends on if Davis plays. The big man is questionable with a back issue and is believed to be a game-time decision.
If he is unable to go then the Lakers will likely start Westbrook in his place, which isn’t ideal against the massive Timberwolves front line of Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert.
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