For the first time since he was a rookie, Russell Westbrook came off the bench Friday with the Los Angeles Lakers wrapping up their preseason schedule in Sacramento.
Westbrook entered the game at the 7:30 mark of the first quarter, and five minutes later he was done for the night with a hamstring injury. During those five minutes, Westbrook was held scoreless, missing a couple 3-pointers and committing two turnovers. It was interesting that Westbrook entered the game to play alongside LeBron James.
Certainly this pairing will be inevitable over the course of the season — if Westbrook indeed remains in a bench role — but generally speaking the idea is to give Westbrook control of the second unit, which should, in theory, free him up to attack as a lead ball-handler rather than trying to exist as a floor spacer for James. Otherwise, the fit issues that became so apparent last season are going to be the same this season.
That’s neither here nor there if Westbrook isn’t even healthy. Hopefully this isn’t a serious injury and the Lakers are just playing it safe to close out the preseason, because they’re already thin with the injury bug going around. Anthony Davis (lower back) Lonnie Walker (ankle) and Dennis Schroder (finger) each missed Friday’s game.
We will update Westbrook’s injury status when more information becomes available.