Russell Westbrook Believes Lakers Are Trending In Right Direction But Need To Get Healthy
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are off to a historically bad start in 2022-23, losing their first five games to tie a franchise record.

Despite the 0-5 start, the Lakers have shown at least some signs of improvement as they have been in just about every game but came up short.

Russell Westbrook has been the subject of a lot of criticism but played his best game of the season on Friday night in the loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Westbrook came off the bench for the first time since his rookie season, accepting Darvin Ham’s new role for him.

Westbrook seemed to thrive in that sixth-man role, coming in midway through the first quarter and bringing the Lakers instant energy in a role he’s more familiar with as the primary ball-handler.

Even though the Lakers did not win the game, Westbrook talked afterward about the progress he feels they are making if they can just get healthy, via Spectrum SportsNet:

“I’m actually not mad at how we played tonight. Our energy was in the right direction, which I’m happy about. And I think it’s important obviously to get AD back and get guys healthy, Dennis, and get things going. But until then, nobody is gonna feel sorry for us. We got to go out and compete and find a way to get a win.”

Against the Timberwolves, the Lakers were without Anthony Davis due to a back injury as well as Juan Toscano-Anderson with an ankle sprain and Dennis Schroder and Thomas Bryant with thumb injuries. Westbrook is not using those injuries as an excuse but wants to make sure those guys, especially Davis, get back healthy soon:

“Nah. To be honest, like I said, I feel good about today. AD is taking care of his body which is most important. And making sure his mind is in the right place because I think that’s the most important part of any injury. When he comes back, we’ll be ready to go and hopefully that’s sooner than later.”

It is good to see that Westbrook is maintaining a positive attitude despite the Lakers’ poor start to the season.

While the Lakers clearly aren’t where they want to be right now, it’s important to remember they are a brand new roster with a new coach and have already been without a number of key players due to injury.

Once the Lakers get Davis, Schroder and some other key players back, it will be interesting to see if they can turn things around with Westbrook leading the second unit in his new role.

Ham explains decision to sit Davis

Davis set a goal before the season of playing all 82 games in 2022-23. The back issue has clearly slowed him down in recent games though and Darvin Ham explained the decision to sit him against the Timberwolves in hopes of getting him back to 100%.

“Well you know the back is a tricky thing. It felt good this morning when he woke up but then going from activity to inactivity this afternoon, and when you’re on the road obviously it’s not your bed, so things like just rolling over in a foreign bed can tweak it and cause discomfort. But just getting out in front of it not wanting to put him into a make-or-break situation too early in the season, be it the fifth game we still have 77 left to play.

“And obviously we’re gonna need him in a major way to be healthy so why risk it was our thought process. So he’ll be out tonight. It’s a good thing that we’re going home tonight after the game and so we’ll be back in our own building and obviously we have our people traveling with us but we’ll be back in our building, he’ll be able to be back in his own bed and so we feel good about him not playing tonight and that leading to him being available the upcoming next game.”

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