Russell Westbrook ‘could come off the BENCH’ for the Lakers following nightmare season, and new head coach Darvin Ham ‘has the full backing’ of the organization
- Russell Westbrook had a poor 2021-22 season and changes could be coming
- Darvin Ham was hired as the new Lakers coach in the offseason
- And moving Westbrook to the bench is reportedly being considered
Lakers guard Russell Westbrook could reportedly come off the bench this year for the first time since his rookie season, as new LA coach Darvin Ham looks to shake things up after a brutal 33-49 showing.
Though the team’s struggles largely derived from injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Westbrook missed just four games the whole season – and he did not exactly put together a highlight reel.
Westbrook’s 18.5 points per contest were his fewest since his second season, and he posted the sixth-worst true shooting percentage in the league (among players with at least 725 points).
Russell Westbrook had a hugely inefficient 2021-22 season at guard for the Lakers
In simpler terms, the UCLA alum also shot a far-below-average 29.8 percent from three-point range on 3.4 attempts per night.
And now, The Athletic has reported that Westbrook being removed from the starting lineup ‘is being strongly considered,’ with Ham having the ‘full backing of the organization’ in any rotation changes he makes.
The update comes just a couple months after Ham told Andscape that he saw Westbrook as a starter, and shared some high praise of the 33-year-old.
‘I love Russell Westbrook, man. Just his mentality, his approach,’ Ham said in July.
‘I got a wholehearted plan, a clear plan on how I’m going to use him. I showed it to him, sat down, brought stuff up for him. I think he’s going to flourish. We ain’t going to try to curtail his energy. We’re just going to diversify it, redirect it.’
Darvin Ham is seen at his introductory Lakers press conference with GM Rob Pelinka on June 6
Those plans may be different now, however, as the Lakers have added to their backcourt of late.
LA traded for defensive specialist Patrick Beverley last month and added Dennis Schroder on a one-year deal on Friday.
Schroder, who played with the team in the 2020-21 season, is a better shooter from deep than Westbrook and has shown an ability to play off-ball, a useful skill when sharing the floor with de facto ‘point forward’ James.
Regardless of his decision, Ham has more options than he did a few months ago, and Westbrook certainly has more competition.