Report: Lakers planning to use Russell Westbrook in new role in final preseason game vs. Kings

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly are making a major change to their rotation for their preseason game against the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.

Lakers head coach Darvin Ham will reportedly bring guard Russell Westbrook off the bench in Friday’s contest, as the two have discussed Westbrook potentially leading the way for the second unit this season.

The Lakers don’t have a lot of time to test Westbrook with the bench unit, as the team opens its 2022-23 regular season on Oct. 18 against the Golden State Warriors.

However, the Lakers are surely hoping that Westbrook will be able to effectively play his game with the bench unit rather than try to fit in alongside other ball-dominant players like LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the starting lineup.

Ham clearly is trying to find the best place for Westbrook to be successful, and the team can now use him off the bench after adding several guards to the roster this offseason.

Los Angeles signed Lonnie Walker IV and Dennis Schroder in free agency and traded for guard Patrick Beverley. The Lakers also have Kendrick Nunn back healthy after he missed the entire 2021-22 season with a bone bruise in his knee.

Westbrook, who had a down season in the 2021-22 campaign, never really seemed to mesh in the starting lineup alongside James and Davis. A primary ball-handler for most of his NBA career, Westbrook isn’t a perfect fit to play off the ball when James is running the offense.

The nine-time All-Star finished the 2021-22 season averaging 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from beyond the arc.

It’s smart of Los Angeles to use the preseason to its advantage, as there are no consequences if Westbrook doesn’t work out with the bench unit.

The Lakers seem to be willing to try just about anything to get back into the playoffs after missing the postseason in the 2021-22 campaign.

If James and Davis can stay healthy after missing significant time last season, the Lakers should be back in the mix for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.